No need to wait to buy my book about Charles W. Gehrke, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, which will be published this fall.

Right now you can save 20 percent on the book and buy it for $16.00—a savings of $4 off the $20 cover. Choose from three delivery options: Pick it up at an event (A release party will scheduled soon), pick it up at the Compass Flower Press office, or have it shipped to you. You will be notified by email immediately when the books are in hand.

Pick it up at an event (date to be announced) or at Compass Flower Press office at 315 Bernadette Drive, Suite 3, Columbia, MO 65203. Cost: $16.

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Or have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

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So what’s From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks about?

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support their family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA which would soon launch missions to the moon. Charles was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript I uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs, an firm that today employs about 300 people and was the first tenant of Columbia, Missouri’s research park, Discovery Ridge.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book will be released in September 2015, but you can reserve your copy now and be the first to get From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

Buy it here now:

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Or have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

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Looking for a writer who can dig into almost anything and come up with a well-written, snappy piece for a magazine, website or online publication? You’ve found her.

A 10 1/2-hour time difference didn’t keep me from connecting with a source and historic information that had literally been dug up and carted away didn’t keep me from completing another assignment.

I write articles, case studies and posts for websites and consumer and business-to-business publications. Topics I’ve covered  have included international studies, rock quarries, pet-food packaging, Fulbright scholarswomen business enterprise certificateshistoric homes and health issues such as cancer and arthritis.

As a writer I cook — take a look at this first-person travel essay on Moroccan cooking classes.

I’m easy to work with, professional and a fiend about accuracy and deadlines.

Take a look at my clips and give me a call at 573.424.5749 or email me at dobrien387@gmail.com.

OK, it’s safe to let this secret out: I don’t drink beer. At all. But that didn’t stop me from writing this case study on Ballast Point’s package redesign for this San Diego craft beer and spirits producer.

That’s because as a reporter and writer I don’t let anything get in the way of getting the article done and done well. Ballast Point products aren’t sold in Missouri yet, but no worries. A few extra telephone calls and photographs and I learned exactly what the package design looked like.

It’s not what I know or don’t know, drink or don’t drink. It’s my drive to learn everything I can about any subject I’m assigned that makes me love my job, and I think that passion for getting it right no matter what shows in this case study for Package Design magazine.

Take a look and see what you think.

Rebranding Brews Sales — Ballast Point craft brewery got a fresh look — and improved sales. Read about how MiresBall made this craft beer and spirit producer stand out in the crowded market.

Looking for the book featured in the May 1, 2015 column by Bill Clark in the Columbia Daily Tribune?

Be among the first to order a copy, and you’ll save 20 percent. Your price is $16.00—that’s a savings of $4 off the cover price of $20.00. Select from three delivery options: Pick up at an event (Release Party, date posted soon), pick up at the Compass Flower Press office, or ship. You will be notified by email immediately when books are in hand.

Pick it up at an event (date to be announced) or at Compass Flower Press office at 315 Bernadette Drive, Suite 3, Columbia, MO 65203. Cost: $16.

Buy Now Button

Or have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

So what’s From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks about?

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support their family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working until his final days on this earth.

He learned the importance of family, also at a tender age. They looked out for each other and stayed close all their lives.

Later, Charles’ own family always came first, even as he rose to the top of his profession, recognized around the world for his pioneering scientific techniques and forward, visionary thinking — modeling and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and shared instrumentation long before those now commonplace tenets were on the radar of most scientists.

Charles was chosen by NASA to examine lunar samples, searching for signs of life, and in the midst of it all, launched an entrepreneurial effort resulting in ABC Labs, a company that has grown and thrived for 40 years and employs more than 300 people.

This book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, is about his life, the adventurous life of a biochemist and entrepreneur.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book will be released in September 2015, but you can reserve your copy now and be the first to get From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

As a freelance writer, I love unusual assignments, like the one I received from Sarah Redohl of the Columbia Business Times. She wanted me to find the origins of the rock and stone so visible in Columbia’s buildings.

Seemed simple. How hard can it be to find a hole in the ground that produced enough rock for much of the University of Missouri’s White Campus as well as many fine homes along the older parts of Columbia?

So much for simple. Until 1971, Missouri quarries were barely regulated. People could open one — and close one — without much left in the way of documentation. Old maps didn’t help much. Old documents simply referred to the quarry south of town. How south? Where was town when that 1906 document referred to south of town? As the town grew, so did south of town, of course.

But shoe leather and research helped me find tales and documentation on past quarries and nearly forgotten industries, including Columbia’s brickworks. We used to have eight of them, the most recent one closed in 1984. I talked the remaining owner of that firm, Liz Kennedy, who was kind enough to show me the brick samples she kept in her backyard. She told me her family’s company furnished the brick for much of the MU campus, many for buildings now fated to be demolished and replaced. Soon that legacy of local brick could be lost as well.

Except for this article and this reporting.

The Rock that Built Us –Doug Mertens of Mid-Missouri Limestone fights the image of quarries as dirty, dangerous places. Instead, he says they’re essential to life as we know it today, supplying not just building materials, but the necessities for infrastructure from streets to sewer drainage. At one time, Columbia, Missouri boasted 30 quarries and eight brickworks. Today, many of those quarries are forgotten, built on or around. Today, one is part of a local park, another is the behind a university building. The history of Boone County’s quarries translates into the stone and brick buildings that still stand today.

As a freelance writer, I never let anything keep me from completing an assignment — not even a 10 1/2-hour time difference for one source or an unreliable internet connection for another source.

For this piece, I interviewed one person via email, because her training schedule in Pune, India, kept her from making our appointments to talk via Skype. I interviewed a source in Rwanda via Skype text messages because her internet wasn’t fast enough to touch base by Skype.

No matter. I got the story — and my client the International Center at the University of Missouri got the news they wanted for their website.

Read the piece below:

Study abroad paves the way for post-graduation opportunities — The way to Dubai, a master’s degree and a position as news director at Rwanda’s first private television station started with study-abroad programs for these three University of Missouri graduates.

Case studies tell an in-depth story about a particular item or approach. Here are two case studies which tell the stories of two different kinds of package redesign, taking you behind the scenes to learn why and how a company decides to put time, effort and money into a new look for their product. Each case study includes insights from the entire team on the redesign, including company officials and the artists involved.

Fresh Story — The Honest Kitchen embarked on a redesign to let the package tell the story of the fresh, raw dehydrated pet food designed to nourish pets and appeal to consumers. The illustrations of Natalya Zahn explain the what and how of this trending type of pet food.

Modern, Vintage, Hip — Kellogg’s wanted to make sure the retro packaging they created for design-savvy retailer Target communicated that the packages were special, and not just old, forgotten boxes of cereal. Using hand drawn art, the packaging for Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Froot Loops rekindled nostalgic feelings and reinvigorated consumer interest.

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