Gary Thompson is senior staff writer at Midwest Living and Meredith Travel Marketing, where he gets paid to play with words while writing about all sorts of interesting people, places and things in the Midwest and beyond. Not bad for a shy kid who was born in Kansas and grew up in Davenport, Iowa, reading his Dad's newspapers and his Mom's "women's" magazines. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in journalism from Drake University and been writing professionally for more than 30 years. When he's not wordsmithing, he's running or walking, watching sports or Jeopardy, and doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (or Spelling Bee).