By Rick Griffin
Retired San Diego public relations veteran turned novelist Roger Conlee, 83, has just released his ninth historical fiction novel called “Lion at Twilight.”
“It’s a lot of fun to write, I’ve been a writer my whole life,” said Conlee, who was a reporter and editor at Helix High School for the Highland Fling school newspaper (he graduated in 1955) and at San Diego State University for the Daily Aztec student newspaper.
Similar to several of his previous novels, the storyline features the dangerous adventures of Jake Weaver, the main character, and his daughter Ilse. In “Lion at Twilight,” the heroes are summoned to Berlin in 1953 to solve a brazen international kidnapping behind the Iron Curtain. The “lion” in the story is Winston Churchill.
In Conlee’s eighth novel, called “After The Wind,” published in 2018, Jake solves a 1951 murder in San Diego while dealing with a crime family who’s running a prostitution ring along Downtown’s Fifth Avenue. The plot includes the 1951 death of media mogul William Randolph Hearst and the tragedy of the Korean War.
“The genre for the books is fact-based fiction that weaves in actual historical events that happened,” Conlee said. “The books are written through the eyes of Jake, my protagonist. He lives an exciting life, more so than my own.”
While attending SDSU, Conlee worked at The San Diego Union with the title of “chief copyboy.” His job was to carry typewriter-written stories from one department to another and run errands.
He later became a sportswriter for the San Diego Evening Tribune, a sister newspaper to the Union. From 1967 to 1971, he lived in Chicago and covered the White Sox baseball team and was an assistant to the features editor at the Chicago Daily News, before returning to San Diego to work at marketing agency Phillip-Ramsey as PR director and then as marketing and communications director at the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
In 1986, he co-founded his own firm with business partner Brian Butler. Conlee & Butler operated as a successful PR agency until 1995, when Butler went in-house with a banking client and Conlee continued to work as a solo practitioner until retiring in 2004.
“I decided to retire and get serious about writing my books,” said Conlee, who resides in downtown San Diego. “From start to finish, it takes about a year-and-a-half for each book, which includes writing nearly every morning over six to nine months followed by a lot of polishing, editing and dealing with the publisher.”
On Mondays, Conlee can be found at Bonita Golf Course playing with friends from high school. His knee replacement from two years ago allows him to walk without pain. “I just had my medical check-up and the doc said I’m doing well for a man my age,” said Conlee. “I’m feeling great and I think I’ve got a tenth book in me, ready to come out. I’m still considering different plot lines. You never know where you will find Jake next.”
San Diego Press Club Announces 2020-2021 Board of Directors
The San Diego Press Club has announced its 2020-2021 board of directors. Eileen Gaffen, Steres Gaffen Media, will serve as president. Other members of the executive committee include: Nicole Vargas, San Diego City College, as first VP; Denise Scatena, Scatena Daniels Communications, as second VP; Cliff Albert, News Radio KOGO 600-AM, as treasurer; Jeanne Ferris, freelance journalist, as secretary. Albert Fulcher, managing editor, San Diego Neighborhood Newspapers, is the immediate past president.
Other board members include: Kristen Castillo, freelance journalist; Cynthia Dial, travel journalist; Maggie Espinosa, travel journalist; Rick Griffin, Rick Griffin Marketing Communications; Ed Joyce, San Diego County Water Authority; Stacy Garcia Lopez, KFMB-TV; and Thom Senzee, freelance journalist.
Additional board members recently elected to three-year terms through 2023 include: Luis Cruz, community and public relations director, The San Diego Union-Tribune; Andrew James, public relations representative, San Diego Zoo Global; Ebone Monet, freelance journalist; and Janine Nakama, freelance producer.
“As president, I’m fortunate to have an active and engaged board and membership,” said Gaffen. “We’re going to use that energy to further engage San Diego Press Club members by continuing to provide professional development workshops, increasing scholarship funds for college journalism students, and recognizing the excellent work of local journalists and PR professionals with our annual awards.”
Gaffen, with more than 35 years of experience in journalism and public relations, has worked at KFMB-TV News 8, Kansas City-based Sprint and Hallmark Cards, Inc., before founding her public relations firm in 2014.
The board also includes four former board members with director emeritus status. They include Reid Carroll, a retired radio broadcaster, Laura Walcher of J Walcher Communications, Gayle Lynn Falkenthal of the Falcon Valley Group and Barbara Metz of Metz Public Relations.
The 400-member San Diego Press Club, one of the largest professional journalism organizations in the nation, is committed to truth and fairness with integrity, high standards and ethical reporting. The club offers an annual awards program, as well as career-enhancing programs and networking opportunities for its members.
Clearpoint Agency Adds Clients Addressing Covid Challenges
Clearpoint Agency, a public relations firm in Encinitas, has added three new clients that are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways.
The new clients include: ARCpoint Labs, a third-party provider of diagnostic testing for individuals, companies and legal and healthcare professionals, which recently added COVID-19 tests to its regular offerings of DNA, drug and alcohol and clinical blood testing; Downtown Works, a co-working space in Little Italy, which has acrylic partitions between open-space workstations, medical-grade air purifiers and UV germicidal lights; and North County Biotech Laboratories of Vista, which offers private, single-tenant laboratory space for research scientists.
“The path forward from this pandemic means that businesses must look at every aspect of their operations differently and focus on protecting the safety of their employees, clients and the community,” said Bonnie Shaw, president of Clearpoint.
Prepare For 2021 With Best Practices Webinar From 136 CEOs
San Diego public relations firm (W)right On Communications and (X), the name of its joint venture with Excelerate LLC, will host a one-hour free webinar called “Pivoting into 2021: Avoid These Pitfalls,” from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, over Zoom.
The webinar will feature best practices, success factors and challenges gleamed from an October survey of 136 CEOs, presidents and business leaders from high-revenue companies representing a cross-section of industries. Officials said the webinar will cover how 2020 taught us about agility and pivoting and actionable tips to incorporate resources into 2021 strategic plans and communications tactics.
The survey was conducted by the Broom Center at San Diego State University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies and sponsored by (X), an enterprise strategy execution and communication consultancy formed by partners (W)right On Communications and Excelerate LLC. (X) offers strategic business planning and operational implementation with integrated strategic communications. (W)right On Communications is an integrated strategic communications firm with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and Vancouver, B.C. Excelerate LLC is a San Diego management consulting firm specializing in digital consulting.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.