Jake Poinier: Freelance Writer and Author of ‘The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer’

Jake Poinier

Jake Poinier has experienced immense flexibility in his role as a freelance writer and editor for the past 16 years. The publishing guru works on projects ranging from penning web copy to ghostwriting books, and he’s self-published three of his own titles: The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid, Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy!, and the recently released The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer: How to Find, Sell, and Retain More Freelance Business.

The 48-year-old Phoenix resident shares his knowledge of the freelancing world on his website, www.DoctorFreelance.com, where he is available to answer questions and creates blog posts focused on freelancing. He shared his tips for existing and aspiring freelancers, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Boston and grew up in Massachusetts. After graduating college, I was working at a golf magazine called Golf Digest magazine in Connecticut. Two years later, I quit my job and attempted to ride my bike cross-country and was run over in Montana by a pickup truck, which cut that short. Even so, the first 1,100 miles introduced me to the beauty of the West’s mountains and desert.

After going back to Massachusetts after the accident, a guy who had left Golf Digest to become the editor at a magazine here in Arizona, called Golf Illustrated, called me. It was a classically awful New England night, 33 degrees and raining, and he said, “Hey, do you want to come to Arizona to be my managing editor?” I said, “What time is my flight?” I flew out and haven’t looked back since. Continue reading

John Schieffer: Painter and ‘Bearly Escaped’ Author

John Schieffer, Valley painter, photographed at his home studio in Goodyear, by Nicki Escudero

John Schieffer, Valley painter and author and illustrator of Bearly Escaped, photographed at his home studio in Goodyear, by Nicki Escudero

John Schieffer

John Schieffer‘s paintings inspire double-takes, as their photorealistic qualities make the images look lifelike. The 42-year-old Goodyear resident crafts colorful works, often modeled after objects he photographs, from dice and jacks, to martinis and toy dinosaurs. Art lovers can view his work at Scottsdale’s Bonner David Galleries, where he is represented and has a special exhibit March 26 through April 6.

Schieffer is also a children’s book author and illustrator, having self-published his book Bearly Escaped, featuring his paintings, in 2012. The book follows escaped circus animals as they interact with the human world and can be found here.

Schieffer talked about what inspired him to be an artist and about his artistic process, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved to Arizona in 2006 from Connecticut. I was born in Waterbury, Connecticut and lived most of my life in Prospect, Connecticut. My wife and I had vacationed out here once and saw the great real estate and loved the climate. We were getting sick of the New England winters, which can be pretty harsh. Continue reading

Liz Mays: Author of ‘The Get-Ahead Guide,’ ‘What’s Your Magic Power?’

Liz Mays

Liz Mays wants to help young women achieve all they can in the creative field, which is why she recently wrote two incredibly helpful books about how recent grads can find success in the professional world: The Get-Ahead Guide: Go From Job Zero to Successful Career Professional and What’s Your Magic Power?

The 37-year-old Scottsdale resident, an L.A. native with a theater educational background, became a successful self-made journalist, writing for publications across the country, as well as editing Arizona Foothills Magazine. Now, she’s the Outreach Director for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU and is always thinking of her next book idea.

Learn what she thinks are the most important tips for young women to succeed in the workplace, and keep scrolling to hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

It was the beauty of it. I really loved the lifestyle. It’s an easy place to commute. There are jobs. It’s a nice metro full of professionals.

The arts are really attractive to me, and the great part is you don’t have to go the distance from one side of L.A. to the other side of L.A. to experience what Scottsdale has to offer. It’s big, but at the same time, there are a lot of things that are central. I really love the center of Scottsdale and the way it’s walkable.

I moved here about 10 years ago and had always wanted to move to Arizona since I drove through it a long time ago. I must have been 22, and I was going to grad school in Illinois. I passed through Arizona and thought, “Well, this is where I would live if I didn’t want to be an actress,” which is what I was planning to be. Over the years, I realized I wasn’t meant to be in acting and was meant to be in publishing.

Long story short, I ended up moving with my now-husband to upstate New York, and we lived there for several years. I did nothing but freelance, though I burnt out on that for awhile. We moved to Illinois where he had some family ties, and I said to him, “I’m going to make four phone calls, and I’m going to call every publisher in town. If I don’t have a job by the end of the day, we’re moving to Arizona.”

On the third phone call, I landed a job interview, and by the end of the day, I had a job. It was a small-town situation, and after a year, we were ready to move to Arizona. Continue reading

Brandon Mullan: Author of ‘Laborliss Magazine: The Complete Collection’

Brandon Mullan

What started as trying to cope with adjusting to life in a new big city has turned into a 505-page book for local author Brandon Mullan. Mullan, a 30-year-old Scottsdale resident from Mechanicsville, Iowa, started writing the story of Laborliss, a fictional town full of larger-than-life (and not always nice) characters when he moved to Phoenix in 2005. He used himself as inspiration for Gus, the town’s superhero who always helps out the residents, despite being underappreciated.

A story and a flyer used to promote the online tale turned into 36 issues of a companion illustrated fictional magazine, peaking with a distribution of 10,000 around Tempe for a single issue. Last fall, Mullan compiled all the magazines into a book, Laborliss Magazine: The Complete Collection. Now he’s selling figurines of the characters, as well as planning an animated series. The realtor-by-day is also working on a novel set for a fall release, Here We Go, Kent.

Mullan credits the creation of Laborlilss with helping him find a new identity here in town. Read on for what inspired the stories, as well as to hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving life in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Mechanicsville, Iowa, a very small town, and came here in 2005. I always knew I wanted to move out West because I thought the West would be a good place for fresh ideas. I kind of had the idea Phoenix was a happening town, too. Continue reading

Nicole Zangara: Author of ‘Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’

Nicole Zangara

Nicole Zangara was feeling uneasy about some of her friendships. She went through what many women in their 20’s and 30’s experience — sudden drop-offs in friendships, with little explanation. Inspired to figure out just what makes female friendships so complex, she started writing down her thoughts. Within a few months, she had the beginnings of a book that was published last year by Chandler-based Brighton Publishing, called “Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” The book is a collection of Zangara’s own experiences related to female friendships, as well as vignettes the 29-year-old Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Scottsdale resident gathered from about 25 women of all ages. Read on for how writing the book affects Zangara’s views of friendships today, and keep scrolling to watch a video of her sharing her five favorite things about living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I have lived in a lot of places. I grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in D.C., went to graduate school in St. Louis, and then moved to Houston for a post-graduate fellowship at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Even though I had a great group of friends in Houston, one day I had this aha moment of, “What am I doing here?” I didn’t live near my family, which is very important to me. One of my brothers lives out here, and over the years, my family would come in November for Thanksgiving. I made the decision to move here and came in 2012. Continue reading

Sara McClellan: Author of ‘The World Needs Hope’

Sara McClellan, author of 'The World Needs Hope,' photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan, author of ‘The World Needs Hope,’ photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan

For some people, uncertainty and loss can be debilitating. For Sara McClellan, she chose to turn hard times into a positive message anyone can benefit from, by writing and self-publishing the recently released book, The World Needs Hope. The 36-year-old Gilbert resident, with about 20 years of professional writing experience, crafted 19 chapters of how hope can be interpreted, with a desire to inspire readers to integrate hope more into their own lives. The book also features art by 20 contributors, all who have lived in Arizona, who visually showed what hope means to them. In addition to writing and editing a blog related to the book  at www.theworldneedshope.com, McClellan will be releasing book-related merchandise starting Thursday, January 31. She talked about her inspiration for the book, what she hopes people take away from it, and why she loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

My father was relocated for a job, so we moved in high school, having never been in Arizona. My grandparents were here, and it was an opportunity to start completely fresh in a new climate. I was born in Wisconsin. Continue reading