David E. Shapiro, Writing and Editing. <br>Informative writing, engaging readers.

David E. Shapiro, Writing and Editing

301-699-8833, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.




Most of my nonfiction writing seeks to teach as well as entertain. I work hard at helping my readers understand their world better. Like Terry Pratchett, whose metaphor for necessary abridgment was "lies told to children," I recognize that presenting levels of detail an audience can't digest is not respectful, not helpful. I do my best not to mislead even by what I leave out. This means getting hold of solid information. I rely on sources that command my respect, and I do my very best to convey the information they give me.

When a publication's style allows some informality, I talk as a person, to engage readers. In most of the contexts in which I've written, my readers have enjoyed the immediacy. If, given a suitable context, I can intrigue or amuse my audience, so much the better.

Reader engagement functions in both directions. I need a pretty good idea of what my readers will understand. In the past, the curse of knowledge, the assumption that what I understand will be equally obvious to the next person, has weakened my communication. I want my writing to be accessible, neither patronizing nor going way over their heads. It’s all about connections: connecting with my readers, and helping them see connections that I've discovered.


Like other writing and editing professionals, I have some competence as a generalist. I've turned out to be a decent editor of many sorts of material. However, I am most interested in, and experienced in writing about, science and technology. Want something more specific? I've covered many aspects of the electrical industry, psychology, safety, health, nutrition and driving. People have been happy with my work summarizing technical presentations and meetings. Areas in which I have far less interest or writing experience include politics, military activities, fashion, entertainment, personalities, economics--with the exception of behavioral economics--and sports. I did serve as the outside editorial consultant for The Psychology of Sport Medicine, which demonstrates the overlap between this and areas where I have interest and some expertise. Even further afield, for several years I edited a quarterly financial newsletter. I even wrote for Military Grocer!


I've just told you what I like to do and what I think I'm good at doing. Demonstration requires something more than the executive summary I've given. The main proof that I can write is that people have been reading my work for decades. Links to lists of various types of publications follow.

Editors and publishers do have other important questions; I'll offer a few answers right now.


How do you know I'm qualified to write this?
How do you know that I'll be both conscientious and reasonable?"


          The information below, with the link shortcuts, shows how widely my writing has ranged and the respect it's garnered.
Many periodical editors have been happy to give me repeat assignments.
I first sold Electrical Contractor Magazine an article in 1987. By 1989, they had me writing a monthly column that ran for more than 22 years, working with a variety of editors and publishers.
My books remained in print for a decade, two decades, and more.

          My writing honors suggest that I provide more than the minimum required.

          You are welcome to contact current and former editors, though most no longer are with the periodical or publisher that bought my work. I will be happy to provide names.

          Writing that calls on subject matter expertise draws either on my knowledge and experience in the electrical industry or on my graduate degrees in social science, including research analysis. To read further details about my technical background, hit the link for my home page, at the bottom.

          You can request a clip from my publications in a wide variety of periodicals, which I list below.


Feature Audiences, followed by columns


  Short Stories


Public Relations




World-Wide Web


Consulting and Outside Editing


Co-authorship and Ghostwriting


Contract Writing

FEATURE (and filler) OUTLETS:

AARP: The Magazine

CEE News



Electrical Construction Technology

Electrical Contractor

Fine Homebuilding,

Focus on the Family

Fort Lauderdale News-Sun/Sentinel

The History Channel Magazine .

HR Report

I-95 Shuk


IEC Quarterly

IVHS America

Lapidary Journal,

Metalworking Equipment News

Military Grocer

Motorcycle Consumer News,

New England Builder


Practical Homeowner

Psychology Today

Public Power



Today's Supervisor


The Washington Post

The Washington Times

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I authored five ongoing columns.

I was Residential columnist for Electrical Contractor at first from 1989 to 1992. They recruited me again as Residential columnist in 1999, and I contributed the residential column to the print edition from 1999 through 2018, with the exception of a few months when my column was bumped for an ad.

I was responsible for an International column appearing in Utility Fleet Management from 1992 to 1994, when I changed roles.

I wrote a Safety column for Utility Fleet Management from February 1994 until March 1997, when took all writing in-house.

In mid-2005, I explained applications of social science to the electrical industry in an online column for Rexel Inc.

Next, I contributed a bimonthly column on safety to the online newsletter of another electrical distributor, Capital Lighting. These columns started in August 2006, and continued until that publisher decided to cease investing in new issues of their newsletter. My “Safewatch” columns remained available for a while, but eventually they were removed.

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My first book was Old Electrical Wiring (McGraw-Hill, April 1998). For a while it was out of print, after two printings, and much sought-after. A revised edition was published in 2010, and a third edition is overdue. You can read reviews of the book below, just after my writing references.

My second McGraw-Hill book, a steady seller that was first available December 22, 2000, covers related material.Your Old Wiring is targeted at non-electricians, including readers who may be novices at dealing with electrical systems. Of necessity, it has a different focus than the first book, and complements rather than duplicates its material. The Edward R. Hamilton web site speaks of it as well-illustrated, and Redwood Kardon, www.codecheck.com, an electrical safety instructor and author of several well-known inspection checklists, speaks highly of it.

I encourage people who have purchased either book to go to the web page where errata are available for downloading.

Not long after the death of my mentor W. Creighton Schwan, I privately published this co-authored book: Behind the Code. It is designed for audiences that may be familiar with the rules that govern wiring in the United States, but remain curious about the reasons they were adopted, and their development over time.


"Another Vision of the Year 2020": Pulphouse magazine August 1992

"Poor Devil." in Veritales #1: Ring of Truth. Fall Creek Press.

"Harvest." in Veritales #2: Note of Hope. Fall Creek Press.


"Fuse Blews," IAEI News, September/ October 1991

"A Pain to Dr. Rolf," GSI News, Spring 1991.

"To a Trackball," Calliope, Honorable Mention, 1995 contest.


I consulted on the dissemination plan and prepared the Executive Summary for an April 2008 anniversary technical report, "Psychological Intervention with the Virginia Tech Shootings: Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Hospital Setting" by John Heil, D.A. et al

Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc.: I prepared a press release.

IAEI George Washington Chapter: I was and remain responsible for publicity mailings; intra- and inter-organizational relations.


SAFE (Safety Awareness For Electricity) -- extensively validated.

The JoHari Window Test (personality) -- developed and validated with two colleagues, published in a refereed journal. A researcher contacted me in late 2022, 40-plus years after its publication, seeking to use the instrument.


I sold FNASR for ten photographs to EC&M magazine, published on EC&M’s web site during 2000.

I shot more than 250 photographs that serve as illustrations for my second book, Your Old Wiring

Finally, I sold EC&EN Magazine a digital photograph as part of a trial feature called "Code Blue."


From its 1983 founding till February 2018, I edited and published monthly issues of The Flexible Conduit, an eight-page newsletter for Mensa members and other intellectually curious members of the electrical industry.


"Inspect us, please" on the National Electrical Contractors Association home page, WWW.NECANET.ORG, June 1997 (reprinted from Public Power);

"Illegal Wiring" on the tool-users' web site, WWW.SLOOT.ORG, July, 2000

SCHOLARLY: Articles in three peer-reviewed journals --

The Journal of Social Psychology

Third Force Psychology ("Does Sincerity Matter: An Empirical Test."); and

The Fight Master.


Rodale Press (book chapters);

Creative Homeowner Press (book and pamphlet editing);

Park Publishing (book evaluation);

McGraw-Hill (proposal evaluation);

The Psychology of Sport Medicine (outside reader);

NAHB Press used me, on call, for proposal evaluation and developmental editing;

Mike Holt Enterprises, Inc. (Fact-checking, light editing, integration of readers' critiques);

Intrepid Capital Advisors, LLC (quarterly financial newsletter).


   IAEI News (multiple issues)

The Guild, 3(2), April-June 1997

Calliope, September-October 1996

CEE News, October, 1992.

Capital M, July, 1992.


"UL in for Big Change? NRTL's will Decide" by Joe O'Neil, Executive Director, American Council of Independent Laboratories. IEC Quarterly, fourth quarter 1996

"Sports Psychology & the Physical Therapist: Part I, Mental Practice" by Dr. John Heil (and), Physical Therapy Forum 6/1/94; Part II, Rehabilitation." 6/15/94

[Practical Electrical Wiring by Richter and Schwan. Originally contracted to take over authorship from 1999 (its 60th year of publication) forward. A challenge to McGraw-Hill's copyright killed the project. Eventually it was taken up by an excellent writer and SME, Fred Hartwell.]


"A Code Day in April." IEC Quarterly, April 1996

"The Code -- and the Job." IAEI News, March-April 1988


Standard-development writer, October 2000 to early 2002, prepared a document for adoption by the American National Standards Institute, "NEIS 302," through the National Electrical Contractors Association

Committee writer, February 2001, for TIP 9 Revision Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders,for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment [CSAT] via CDM, Inc.

Grant review committee writer, September 1996, for U.S. Army Medical Material and Research Command, through United Information Systems (breast cancer).

Grant review writer, November 1995, for U.S. Army Medical Material and Research Command, through United Information Systems

Backup grant review writer, July 1995, for SAMHSA through R.O.W. Sciences, Rockville, MD.

Backup grant review writer, July 1994, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Rockville, MD.

Grant review writer, National Institutes, Spring 1993, United Information Systems., Bethesda, MD.


"Most Valued Person" award from the American Motorcyclist Association for a safety column in UFM.

"Most-Read Feature" rating by readers of Utility Fleet Management; for my Safety column.

"Maryland Best," 1991 World's Worst Poetry contest.


My editors at McGraw-Hill are long gone, unfortunately.

My most recent sale was a Q&A commissioned by Fine Homebuilding's Patrick McCombe.

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Reviews of Old Electrical Wiring

Electrical Contracting and Engineering News: ". . .an essential guide . . ."

CEE News: ". . . a thorough, sometime humorous, guide . . . Ample photographs, charts, and appendices round out the text. . ."

The Independent Writer: ". . . important information for people who live or work in older buildings . . ."

Electrical Contractor: " . . . a valuable reference work. . .keep the book handy. . . ."

Electrical Construction and Maintenance: ". . . practical . . .valuable resource."

Fine Homebuilding: ". . . a necessary addition to any electrician's library."

Electrical Books: ". . . detailed and valuable resource."

Contractors' Code Letter: ". . . clear guidance. . ."

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