Journalist • Copywriter • Editor • Marketer

Writing and editing compelling stories has been my life’s work.

Print magazines, mobile apps, digital magazines, books, blogs, branding, marketing, social media, website content and management, custom publishing, documentary film, technical writing, advertising copy, direct mail, media collateral, media relations . . . I’ve successfully worked in all these genres—and probably many others.

My passion for communications and the written word is matched by my love for the outdoors, travel, and fitness. I’ve been able to marry these passions throughout my career, while also demonstrating a deft ability to execute voice, tone, and messaging suitable for a great variety of clients and platforms.

“Bob Howells does not just write about nature—he becomes one with it. In fact, if you are not careful, you will find yourself transported into a remote and vast landscape or seascape. And he knows just how to hook you along. In ‘Called to the Wild,’ written for National Geographic Traveler, Howells does just that: ‘How I came to be snorkeling in Hudson Bay not far from 3,000-pound beluga whales is the story of a growing obsession … I like being reminded that separation from the natural world is an illusion. Indeed, here I am, as alive and breathing as the creature I’m watching.’ Howells has a talent for bringing nature up close and revealing the wonder of our surroundings far from cities and towns. He is also very good at drawing you into his stories with each succeeding paragraph until you are so far away from home that you really do come away feeling you traveled.”

—Lowell Thomas Award judges, Society of American Travel Writers Foundation

For more about my background, please visit my LinkedIn profile.

______________________________________________________________________

Recent Projects

I’ve been writing for magazines for a long time, but to score a 14-page feature in the June/July issue of National Geographic Traveler is pretty special. At the end, the author bio note reads: “Robert Earle Howells is a California-based writer whose passion is public lands that preserve disappearing landscapes.”

This feature is special to me for that reason, and others as well. This was my third visit to the prairie over the course of 30 years, dating back to a trip I took when I first started freelancing. That trip was all about, yep, public lands—and proposed public lands—that preserve disappearing landscapes.

Also special is the fact that my host in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, on all three trips was Harvey Payne, and several of his photographs are included in the feature. There’s also a gorgeous sunset shot by my buddy Matt Payne (no relation to Harvey). The three of us spent one long day and evening out on the prairie together. Very special.

Meet the Man Who Sang Like a Bird and Helped Save the Redwoods is the title of this story I wrote for Audubon, and I’ll admit to being proud of it. I came across Charles Kellogg’s amazing Travel Log—a motorhome carved from a 22-foot section of fallen redwood tree—while visiting Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I was even more blown away by the piped-in sounds of bird calls; that is, when I realized they were coming from a recorded human voice. As the editors at Audubon might attest, I pushed hard for this piece. I knew I could unearth some original research, and I knew it was a timely conjunction of events happening: Kellogg’s 150th birthday, Save the Redwood League’s 100th, and Redwood National Park’s 50th. It garnered a ton of shares and flattering comments.

Recent pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle are about places I happen to love, including my home county of San Luis Obispo. That’s me at left, on Point Buchon Trail near Montaña de Oro State Park, included in One Day One Place San Luis Obispo.

In that same issue, I wrote about Hearst Castle. Is it a monument to a giant ego, or a stunning work of art? As Hearst Castle Turns 100, Visitors Roam Freely. My wanders often take me up north to British Columbia. Hence: An Outside Guide to Vancouver Island.

Last summer I wrote this piece for the Chronicle, which was honored by the North American Travel Journalists Association as one of the best newspaper travel stories of 2018The Only Way to Protect These Trees Is to Hide Them. An excerpt:

“Redwood trees are giant collective spirits — ecosystems, in the scientific parlance. Why single out one, when the collective has such profound presence and significance? It’s how those trees interact with one another and with their understory that enables them to reach such magnificent heights. That’s the source of their majesty.Not a cool name or a world record.

“I was much more moved by Tall Trees Grove. The mile-long loop through that collection of giants felt hallowed, exemplary of Steinbeck’s cathedral hush. I also wandered down to Redwood Creek and looked back up at the grove’s incredible dark skyline of unnamed trees, their crowns soaring above 300 feet. Those are the enduring feelings and images from that day.

“I would encourage anyone to make the Tall Trees hike, and discourage anyone from attempting to reach Hyperion. Some locations, some trees, should remain secret, untrammeled, and probably unnamed. Let them flourish in anonymous silence. Let us look out from afar and be happy that they’re there, and proud that 50 years ago we established a national park to protect them.”

Masters Athlete_LOGO_3 copyAs the editor and cofounder of The Masters Athlete, I manage a website/blog tailored to the underserved needs of older athletes. It covers fitness, training, nutrition, health information, gear and technology, personalities, and inspiring features—all through the filter of middle age.

ozy.comI’ve been writing for the very cool news-and-features website Ozy.com. One recent story is a profile of Dr. Robert Drapkin, a senior-citizen bodybuilder and physician. See “This 72-Year-Old Doctor Wears a Thong,” which has garnered 873 shares and counting. See also “The Sweaty Esports Are Coming,“about the rise of physical e-sports; to wit, bike racers pedaling indoors to navigate their avatars in a virtual world. The course may be virtual, but the pain is real.

just ahead logo

As the editor and lead writer for Just Ahead: “Your Audio Tour Guide to the World,” I wrote and edited smartphone audio tours for some of the most beautiful places on earth, starting with classic American national parks such as Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Yosemite. I also wrote the website, marketing copy, and blog. It’s a very cool platform. Check it out.

My feature At Home on the Range about Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, is in the June/July 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveler: nine colorful pages plus jump copy. I’m particularly proud of this story because the assignment was initiated by the late Keith Bellows, one of the finest print editors ever. He wanted a national park travel story that was also an homage to the concept of national parks. UPDATE: This article won the Gold Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Western Chapter for Best Article on US Travel.

image1

My first feature for Esquire (February 2016) has me on familiar turf: Yosemite National Park. The editors contacted me for ideas about adventures that should be planned in February, executed in July. I gave them a number of ideas. They went for this one…then asked me to write it. Goodwill and cooperation always pay off.

SunsetCover_0314[331]

My first assignment for Sunset was a timely story about Yosemite on the eve of the park’s 150th anniversary. My lede assures everyone that the park didn’t burn down last summer.

images

During the throes of the government shutdown in the fall of 2013, the Washington Post asked me to write this opinion piece titled “Five Myths About the National Parks.” The shutdown affected everyone who loves national parks, including me, both personally and professionally. I was in the early stages of researching a Just Ahead tour of Joshua Tree National Park, but had to shut down myself while our friends in Washington sorted things out.

SaveSave