News Writing

In 2007, I graduated from UNC Asheville with a major in literature and a minor in print journalism. The next year I returned to my hometown of Charlotte and freelanced an article for the Charlotte Observer on the Sweet Union Rollergirls, a local roller derby team. This led to me freelancing on a regular basis for the Observer’s Neighbors of Union section, where I covered a variety of people and subjects relating to Union County.

In addition to writing occasional articles, I also took over as the school news compiler for three years. In that role, I received press releases about school news in the Charlotte metro area and boiled them down to their essence in short, concise blurbs written in the appropriate AP style.

Today, I write two monthly beer-related columns for the Observer: “Beer Here” and “Sip of the Week.” You can find those pieces here. If you would like to see some older pieces that I wrote for the Observer’s Neighbors of Union section, just e-mail me at danielhartis (at)




eCommerce Products & Posts

For a few years (2008-2011), I was a content writer for Filters Fast, one of the Internet’s largest retailers of air and water filters. During those three years I literally wrote thousands of product descriptions. And while writing about microns and MERV ratings hardly seems glamorous, I am very proud of the work I did for Filters Fast.

When writing product descriptions, search engine optimization is of paramount importance; you want to make sure your pages rank well for the relevant terms. If you focus too heavily on writing for search engines, though, you end up with a mess of keywords and serial numbers that no human being will ever want to read. This, too, can have a huge impact on sales conversions.

A well-written product description, then, should both rank well in search and yet also explain in an engaging and captivating way the features and benefits of a product.

As I said, I wrote thousands of product descriptions for Filters Fast, but here are a few I feel strike that balance well:

Product descriptions were not the only pieces of content I created at Filters Fast. I also started the company’s blog, where we related more general news back to air and water in an entertaining way. Popular posts included:

Healthcare Content Writing

As the Internet Marketing Specialist for a large specialty practice here in Charlotte, I am responsible for creating all copy that is used on our website. I have also written content for our practice’s online and print ads, blog posts, social media accounts, brochures, newsletters and press releases.

If you would like specific examples of my work, please e-mail danielhartis (at)

“No Balm in Gilead” (Libretto)

I had never written a libretto, but when longtime friend and composer Michael Rickelton asked if I was interested in doing just that, I jumped at the chance. The resulting libretto, “No Balm in Gilead,” portrays Edgar Allan Poe as a man haunted by the women of his life and literature.

In Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven,” the narrator laments the loss of his beloved Lenore and begs the question: “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician here?” These are undoubtedly questions that plagued Poe himself throughout his life, most notably following the deaths of his mother, foster mother and wife.

“No Balm in Gilead” imagines Poe’s last night in a Baltimore bar where, drinking absinthe and barely lucid, he imagines that the barmaid is his wife Virginia, who died of tuberculosis only two years earlier. Two other women appear, who introduce themselves as Lenore and Annabel Lee, figures from his poems who accuse him of depriving them of life and love, but creating them only to have them die. Tormented between tragic reality and fierce illusion, Poe staggers out into the night.

The libretto was performed by the Peabody Conservatory Opera Department as a chamber opera, composed by Michael Rickelton. If you would like to see the full work, please e-mail me at danielhartis (at)

“Zombie Kings” (Screenplay)

In 2008, I came across a Craigslist posting about two of my favorite things: zombies and screenwriting. Paul Streiner, a local director, was seeking someone to co-write a short zombie film with him.

This was right in my wheelhouse.

I expressed interest, and soon Paul sent out a list of characters and notes to myself and other writers, asking that we create a treatment in a week’s time. The writer with the best treatment would then be chosen to write the screenplay itself, which would later be redundantly-dubbed “Zombie Kings: The King of the Zombies.”

Paul already had an interesting assortment of characters, settings and a general outline of what he wanted the film to be — he just needed someone to help tie it all together. I’m proud to say Paul chose my treatment and brought me on to co-author the screenplay with him. Over the next couple of months, we volleyed drafts back and forth until we felt we had reached a filmable script.

After production, the film was submitted to the Light Factory’s American Zombie Film Contest, where its tongue-in-cheek humor and green screen action earned it a place in the top ten. It also won “Best Short Film” of Indie Fest USA ’09 at AMC Downtown Disney in Anaheim.


News Writing