About Paula LaRocque

Paula, often hailed as one of America’s foremost writing coaches, is an author, editor, and communications consultant. She has conducted writing workshops for hundreds of media, government, academic, and business groups across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  She has also been a writing consultant for the Associated Press, the Drehscheibe Institute in Bonn, and the European Stars & Stripes in Germany. 

From 1971 to 1981, she taught technical communication at Western Michigan University’s School of Engineering, and journalism at Texas A&M, Southern Methodist, and Texas Christian universities.  And from 1981 to 2001, she was assistant managing editor and writing coach at The Dallas Morning News.

She has been a columnist for the Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill magazine for more than 20 years.  Her commentaries air regularly on National Public Radio in Dallas.  She’s author of three non-fiction books (Marion Street Press, Inc.):

  • The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well
    (This comprehensive work, a consistent and exceptional seller since its 2004 publication, has five stars on Amazon.com, periodically rising to No. 1 in its category in both print and Kindle versions.)
  • On Words: Insight Into How Our Words Work—and Don’t.
    (This collection of Paula’s print and radio commentaries on the language and the way we use it was published in 2007 and is a popular gift item.)
  • Championship Writing: 50 Ways to Improve Your Writing
    (This collection of writing and language columns was published in 2000.)

Since leaving The Dallas Morning News in 2001, Paula has been writing fiction and has completed the first two of a mystery novel series.  Currently, she’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Inc.,  and the Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Workshop.

A member of the Associated Press Managing Editors association from the early 1990s through 2001, she was elected to the Board of Directors and appointed an officer.  In 2001, the association granted her its highest honor: the Meritorious Service Award for exemplary contribution to journalism.

She earned a BA degree Summa Cum Laude in 1971 and an MA in 1972 (Western Michigan University).  She also worked on a doctorate, but her career became so demanding she did not complete it.

And More Personally . . .

I was born in Ohio and grew up in Michigan, the second of four children.

I studied English and philosophy at Western Michigan University and received my Bachelor of Arts degree Summa Cum Laude. At graduation, the English Department gave me its Outstanding Graduate Award as well as a fellowship and a generous grant for my post-graduate work. I earned my Master of Arts degree and went on to doctoral studies – which I didn’t finish because:

I had begun teaching composition and creative writing at the university level while still in graduate school and became a full-time university instructor in WMU’s Engineering School shortly after receiving my Master of Arts degree. I became a “stringer” for the local newspaper and worked fulltime as a feature writer for that paper during the summer of 1973.

My first marriage ended in divorce, and in 1975, I married the local newspaper’s managing editor. My husband, Paul, accepted a managing editorship in Texas, and I was offered a teaching position at Texas A&M University. We relocated to Texas, where Paul subsequently became the editorial page editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and I taught journalism at Southern Methodist University.

In 1979, I became assistant professor of journalism and director of student publications at Texas Christian University, and in 1981 was offered an intriguing position at The Dallas Morning News – to become the newspaper’s first “writing coach.” The job was to be an experiment – a writing improvement program for the newspaper’s staff. The experiment lasted 20 years!

I left the DMN at the end of 2001 and now spend my time writing, editing, teaching, and conducting writing workshops. Always an avid mystery fan, I’ve completed two mystery novels, part of a series.  I’ve always loved writing, but this foray into fiction has been the most fun (and the hardest work!) of my writing life. Paul, too, writes and has published two books – on editing and headline writing.

Our leisure-time activities have to do with literature, art, music, movies, and theater. We often take university art classes. I love entertaining, interior design and decoration, fine dining and great red wines – the Chilean reds are my favorite. And I have the great good fortune to be married to a gourmet cook! To work off Paul’s wonderful food, both of us are active members of LA Fitness.

We tend to be homebodies not only because our work requires long, solitary hours at the computer but also because we don’t like leaving our doggie, Pompi (the third in a string of long-lived toy poodles with the same name). Until recently, we owned a condo in Park City, Utah – a place we bought as a vacation home as much for our dogs as for ourselves. There we became fans of the Sundance Film Festival as well as of the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains’ wonderful summers – a great place for Texans in July and August. We’ve sold the condo but remain enthusiastic vacationers to that area.

 

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