1This post is by Joe Stephens

When I started this writing journey, I thought that I would simply be writing books and maybe short stories. I never even considered anything else. I had no interest, at least that I knew of, in any other kind of writing. And then, as they say, fate stepped in.

A brilliant former student of mine named Liv Reeder asked if she and another former

My good friend Liv, who is now known to me as Chief. 

student could come and talk to my classes about the journalism department at our local college, West Virginia University at Parkersburg. I had, as always, a lot of good writers in my classes and it had the added bonus of allowing me to see Liv for a whole day. I am good friends with her and her husband, who just so happens to be another former student, so I was glad for the chance.
As we sat having lunch together in the middle of the day, she mentioned ClutchMOV, for which she was writing (she has since become editor-in-chief). She explained that it was an online lifestyle magazine for and about the Mid-Ohio Valley. I asked about the possibility of having an article about me an my books and then I happened to mention that I would be willing to fill a slot they were struggling to keep filled writing monthly book reviews. It was a casual comment that I didn’t really think much about. I figured I read a lot. Why not write a review for one of the books I read each month? It’s not much of a commitment.

So I did. And theClutch MOVn Liv invited me to a contributor’s meeting. It was a blast. The people were young and funny and energetic, and I got, for the first time, an understanding of just how exciting ClutchMOV had the potential to be. These were people who enjoyed living in the Parkersburg-Marietta area and wanted to promote just how culturally rich this place really is, despite its reputation to the contrary. So I got swept up. I offered to write reviews of local plays and even some short stories. In subsequent meetings, I’ve slowly become a general contributor, writing stories about historic houses and local organizations and theater and book reviews and short stories. I’ve conducted interviews. I’ve done research. I’m writing nonfiction. And Liv, who is an amazing writer, tells me I’m good.

Who knew? I’ve not only found another kind of writing I enjoy but also one that I seem to be good at. And it’s all because of a casual comment to a friend while sitting at lunch. You never know when the next opportunity will present itself.

So when have you found an exciting opportunity where you least expected it?

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. His fourth Shalan Adventure will be available this summer.The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, Paperback Palace in Vienna, and from the author’s trunk.

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his newest book on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon




24 thoughts on “ClutchMOV

  1. Interesting post Joe. We never know who.may reappear in our lives and what that will mean years down the road. Good luck with your “different” writing. I’m sure it’s an interesting break from your novel writing. How neat that it came in the form of an old student. Enjoy it. I think your novel writing will shine because of it. Good luck!


  2. How great you were given that opportunity. So many (I call them “God” moments) come my way, and I am thrilled when they do. Many out of the blue, such as lately when i was invited to demonstrate my oil painting abilities at one of our monthly art walks in our town for a clothing store business. And again this afternoon when invited to present to an elementary school, not an expected thing for me. Good for you and am sure this was meant to be a display of your talent as well as confirmation as a writer!


  3. You are being guided to what you are to do. I believe that, for you are a wonderful writer and your work needs to be shared. Doris


    1. I believe it too. And whether I’m a wonderful writer or not, I know this is making me a better one. And I’m enjoying it so much! I’m bleary-eyed this morning because I went to the final dress rehearsal of a local production of LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, which I’m getting ready to review. It was a blast!


  4. That sounds brilliant- Joe. I can’t think of any recent instances but what you’re now doing sounds really enriching. As an ex-teacher i know that if I hear of the achievements of ex pupils I get a great buzz from it- even though it’s really nothing to do with me. I think what you’re doing in tow with kids you’ve taught is wonderful! It’s also great to hear that people are proud enough of their area to bring it to the wider community.


    1. I’m sure you had more to do with it than you say. Your former students are doing great things in part because of the influence you had on them.


  5. I’ll have to check it out. I am very interested in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Sounds like you are having a grand time. It probably doesn’t matter, but does it pay. Cher’ley


    1. It pays $20 an article, at least in theory. I haven’t actually seen any money yet. But I joined in when it didn’t pay.


  6. That’s really awesome, Joe! I “stumbled” on an opportunity that has led me two at least three articles this year (although they have printed yet — one is to run in May, another in June, and the third in October, and I’m hoping for another in November). The publisher of my “Walking in Trust…” book told me about a community magazine publisher, one that was interested in pet articles; I submitted, and she’s accepted my work, so I’m looking forward to this new avenue. One never knows when an opportunity will come our way. Congratulations to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s great that you’re writing through other avenues. I think any form of writing is beneficial and it exercises that “writing” muscle in different ways. I enjoy writing book reviews and feel that’s such a great perk to working at a bookstore. I write them for the San Diego location of the bookstore I work for and somehow my reviews end up in the San Diego Union Tribune now and then. Friends send me the articles otherwise I’d never even know. I also happened to see a blurb I wrote for a YA novel that I loved right there on the back dust jacket. I was so shocked and thrilled. (I was on a YA/MG committee for Indies Introduces and we were encouraged to send blurbs to the chairperson who would then forward them to the publisher). I had no idea it was there and it took me three months after I bought the book to even notice it! Anyway, congrats on the cool gig, Joe!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a nice instance of serendipity. Glad it’s worked out so well for you. I’ve had lots in my life. One of the most fun examples is when we “won” a week at a Wyoming Dude ranch in a charity auction. We had so much fun that when we came home I put away my current project and started working on a dude ranch story. That became Wyoming Escape, my first pubbed book.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Casual conversions when I am on the road generally lead me to some of my best shots and some interesting experiences. No matter where I am locals have the best info and I have learned to listen to them.

    Sounds like you are spreading your wings and enjoying it, good for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That you’re comfortable making casual conversation with folks while you’re on the road is something I envy. I am shy when it comes to things like that. I’m even hesitant to approach people I know, like former students, when I see them because I’m afraid they wouldn’t want to talk to me.


  10. Sounds like fun, Joe. Back in the 1970s at my first newspaper job, I did the occasional review of local community and college theater productions. Had my own column as well — Staton the Situation. Boy, I was young then … in my twenties. The only review that still sticks in my mind after all these years was one I did for a Ohio University-Lancaster performance of ‘Our Town.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of the fun for me is that I’ve never done journalism of any kind and wrote very little by way of nonfiction before this opportunity came along. I not only didn’t know if I was interested, but didn’t even know if I would be any good at it. It’s been great learning a new skill.


  11. Congratulations, Joe. Not only are you learning a new skill, but you have a new audience as well. Being in the right place at the right time and saying the right thing can pay off, as it did for you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s