Troy Corley, Free & Frugal Fun Expert

In 1969, James Earl Jones was starring in “The Great White Hope” on Broadway. Troy Corley, age 10, whose father had performed with Jones Off-Broadway, arranged for her to interview the deep-voiced thespian for her fifth-grade newsletter. Waiting until Jones came off stage at midnight, Troy interviewed him by phone from her garden apartment in Queens. When Jones’ interview rolled off P.S. 213′s ditto machine with Troy’s aniline purple byline on slick paper, the young girl’s brain became hardwired for the journalist’s life.

Troy CorleySince her first professional media job as a newspaper reporter at age 18, Ms. Corley has spent 33 years as a journalist, editor and publisher. As a freelance writer and editor, her work has appeared in the L.A. Times and several other newspapers; Parade, Parents, FamilyFun, Travel + Leisure Family, Family PC, LA Parent and other magazines.

With two kids in tow, Ms. Corley began incorporating them into her work by focusing on educational travel. This provided numerous opportunities to write about new exhibits at museums, science centers and zoos, allowing her children to tag along with free passes to fun experiences. The free adventures led the journo Mom to seek other other free things to do. As she compiled a list for Los Angeles, Ms. Corley captured a niche as a free and frugal fun expert.

As a senior writer for AOL Digital City and CityGuide Los Angeles, Ms. Corley honed her skill for writing “snackable content.” The ability to produce short but detailed articles on travel topics came in handy for the new Web content market; she later utilized this content model for her first book, Let’s Go Buggy! A Family Travel Guide to Insect Zoos & Butterfly Houses.

Published in 2002, Let’s Go Buggy! was the first travel guide published by her company, Corley Publications & CorleyGuide. The unique guide was carried by top U.S. zoos and museums, including the Smithsonian and the National Zoo.

Meanwhile, Ms. Corley worked on the concept of publishing a line of hip pocket travel guides to free things to do in metro areas. Called Free Fun Guides ™, the first title was Free L.A. The Ultimate Free Fun Guide to the City of Angels, published in 2004. A second edition of Free L.A. recently rolled off the presses.

Ms. Corley’s line of printed travel guides is steadily expanding with Free San Francisco and Free Orange County in print and Free San Diego slated to be published in spring 2010. Ms. Corley also produces a network of free things to do, with articles on free fun with a national focus and pages devoted to L.A., Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland and NYC. (her hometown) with more metro pages to come. Digital editions of the printed guides are in the works.

Ms. Corley lives on the Ventura Coast just north of Los Angeles with her husband Ron, who is also her publishing partner; 18-year-old daughter Emelia who works as an editorial assistant; and sometimes at-home 22-year-old son Tristan, a graphic design student who is editor-in-chief of his Cal State Channel Islands student newspaper.

P.S. If anyone has that 1969 newsletter, Troy would appreciate having a copy! Contact her at