BiographyA Kentucky native, Colleen Steffen earned her B.A. in journalism from Franklin College (go Grizzlies!) in Franklin, Ind., and her M.A. in English literature from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville—but honestly she learned most what she knows the hard way, at four different daily newspapers in three different states.
As a reporter she covered everything from train wrecks to 4-H cat shows, estimating she wrote more than 1,000 pieces in some 13 years, but she specialized in the kind of storytelling that shows readers their ordinary and familiar world in new ways.
A stereotypically restless journalism type, she has dabbled in PR, historic preservation, 100-year-old crime investigation and keeping a small child out of traffic. She also spent more than five years teaching future journalists at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
As an instructor, she helped form student news agencies at the Olympic Games in London, Sochi and Rio—and at the Indiana State Fair. She taught travel writing in Italy and how to operate 100-year-old printing presses at the country's oldest continuously operating letterpress. But she especially loved those beginning, foundational courses for new reporters, the classes other instructors often tried to get out of. She liked being the person to show those anxious newbs what an adventure they were in for. She hopes her book also manages to give beginners (or those looking for a little refresher) tools they can use immediately while reminding them what a great and necessary call they have answered.
Currently owner of her own business, Colleen Steffen Consulting LLC—offering social-media management and content creation of all stripes—Colleen lives with her husband, daughter and vicious weiner-mutt in Muncie. She decided to be a writer when she was 7, and she’s never been sorry yet.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Colleen has taught everything from interviewing to long-form multimedia storytelling to literary journalism to journalism history, specializing in those practical skills reporters of all media need to do their jobs with accuracy, fairness and artistry—and without getting overwhelmed and quitting.
Colleen is a mom, thrifter extraordinaire, aspiring crafty person, writer of an obscure blog devoted to historic dog photographs and a voracious reader—she has an emergency book in her purse right now. She also has a suitcase packed and ready to go at all times; a Retro Junior ham-can camper with a teal stripe; and an as-yet-unpublished nonfiction manuscript about a little girl who disappeared from New Castle, Ind., in 1913, which she spent five years researching, just for fun. She believes there's absolutely nothing a cup of coffee won't fix.