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20 questions and a selfie: A day in the life of one of the hardest working news writers in Texas


For this installment of “20 Questions and a Selfie,” we catch up with Mark Passwaters, Rivals.com sportswriter and six-time Associated Press award-winning news writer.

Based in Houston, Texas, Mark is an internationally recognized writer. Owner of Passwaters Communications, a communications and public relations company, Mark covers Texas A&M football for the Rivals.com online sports network and writes for a well-known data and news organization covering everything from real estate to renewable energy. Mark is a self-described political animal, sports fan (obvious) and Star Wars junkie (less obvious).

You can connect with Mark on Twitter @MBPRivals.

Editor’s note:  We conducted our interview with Mark over email, so some of his answers are a bit longer than the usual 140-character limit.

Our 20 questions with Mark start now:

1) What is your full name, including middle name?

Mark Brian Passwaters. Go ahead, check. I’m not wanted in any of the 50 states.

2) What is your professional job title?

By day, Senior Reporter for a prominent energy publication. By nights and weekends, Publisher of AggieYell.com.

3) Describe your organization.

Which one? The first is a well-known data and news organization covering everything from real estate to renewable energy. The other is Texas A&M’s affiliate on the Rivals.com network.

4) Describe your surroundings right now.

I’m in my daughters room, typing away on her bed as I try to put her to sleep. My office is next door, and has framed jerseys of Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and John David Crow on the wall. There’s also an autographed picture of my buddy, Johnny Manziel. (Yes, that second sentence was a completely gratuitous plug.)

5) What was your first paid writing gig?

Opinion writer for The Battalion, Texas A&M’s student newspaper. I have been told I am somewhat opinionated.

6) What was the last thing you wrote?

A story about the Gunnison sage grouse being named a threatened species and how that may affect oil and gas production in Utah and Colorado.

7) What is the next thing you plan to write?

Answer questions from the AggieYell Mailbag, which is posted every Thursday with questions from our readers.

8) Finish this sentence: The ideal way to start my day is …

With the money fairy having brought us about $10 million while we slept.

9) Besides your computer, what is sitting on your desk right now?

Another computer and two parking passes for A&M’s remaining football games.

10) So-called writer’s block is no match for you! What is your antidote?

Looking at my daughter’s picture and realizing that if you don’t get your ass in gear, you’re not the only one who goes hungry.

11) Finish this sentence: I hate it when I read …

Someone on a chat board (mainly ours) who thinks they’re quite witty and astute, yet start their comments with “your an idiot.” It takes a lot not to hit the smite button at that point.

12) What are the most important tools, programs and systems you use for your work?

Word, Photoshop, Twitter, some obscure internal systems you have never heard of and never want to hear of, and the good ol’ telephone.

13) First book that comes to mind? Go!

Hell, I don’t know. I’m tired and I’m reading four at the moment.

14) What are your favorite smartphone apps and why?

Twitter — because I’m on it constantly (@MBPRivals). The MLB.com app, because I’m a baseball junkie and it’s the best app by any professional sports league, bar none. The Safari app, so I can make sure nobody’s screwing up AY when I’m not looking. I’m a doting dad.

15) What have you always wanted to write?

A book. I don’t think I have the creative ability to write a novel, so that leaves the real stuff. I’ve been working on one for nearly five years.

16) What is your advice for aspiring professional writers?

Get ready to get your teeth kicked in frequently. You learn by doing in this business, and that means doing a lot of things that aren’t right (not necessarily wrong) before you get it right. Find a writing style you like and shamelessly imitate (and improve on) it. And for God’s sake, don’t EVER write, “your an idiot.”

17) First famous writer who comes to mind? Go!

Arie Wilson Passwaters. Not good enough? Ian Fleming and W.E.B. Griffin. Those guys got it done.

18) Finish this sentence: My favorite thing about being a writer is …

Nobody cares what I wear. I work at home. I swore when I was at a hoity-toity East Coast boarding school as a teenager that I’d find a job where I could wear a t-shirt and jeans to work. Most days I can.

19) Pencil versus pen—who wins and why?

Pencil. I can read my handwriting in pencil. In pen, not so much.

20) Finish this sentence: One word or phrase people will never read in my writing is …

“Your an idiot.” I know. Mind blown by this unexpected turn of events.

Would you like to be featured in our “20 Questions and a Selfie” interview? If you’re a working, professional writer, you qualify. Click here to do your “20 Questions and a Selfie” now.

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