I moved a lot as a kid. As a result, I attended seven different elementary schools. Books became my coping mechanism. They replaced the awkwardness associated with starting a new school, walking into a new classroom, and making new friends. Books didn’t judge, they didn’t bully, and they didn’t exclude me from whatever activities were going on. Not once did I ever pick up a book and feel rejected.
I was methodical in my reading habits. Before middle school, I stuck to nonfiction. History, geography, and zoology. I would pick a section of the library and check out all the books on a given subject. I covered a multitude of topics; the Revolutionary war, the Serengeti, the Great Depression, Manifest Destiny, pirates, you get the picture. I distinctly remember one weekend checking out three separate books on World War II fighter pilots. Needless to say, the librarians knew me by name. I was voracious and would finish a dozen books a week. I rushed through in-class work so I could read and escape from the world.
When I reached middle school, I discovered fiction. It started with the first book I ever bought, Tarzan of the Apes. I was enthralled. So much so that I rode my bike to different malls, collecting the entire series in paperback (24 books in all). I read each one twice and several three times or more. I branched off into their works by Edgar Rice Burroughs, specifically the Barsoom series (otherwise known as John Carter of Mars). Finding more books to read was like pulling the thread on the tapestry. Jules Verne, Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, Clive Cussler, and the list goes on. And of course, who can forget the time someone challenged me to read Dhalgren (at a tender 14 years old). Thanks, Ken.
Finally, my attention turned to more sophisticated fiction and non-fiction. My good friend Matt introduced me to Barbara Tuchman, an excellent historian, and several Russian classics by Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. English and American classics also found their place.
The next phase of my reading was highly influential in my later attempts at writing. I started off with sci-fi staples from Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, and David Pournelle. Epic fantasy series from Terry Brooks and Harry Turtledove. The Coldfire series from C.S. Friedman was especially influential in helping form my protagonist/antagonist relationships.
Somewhere along the line, my thoughts shifted from reading to writing. A long conversation with my high school friend Dustan probably inspired me. In my late twenties, a story began to form that would take 20+ years to complete, a story I am ready to share with the world.
I’ve had incredible support, from my beautiful wife Sonya to my amazing kids, Chris and McKenna. All my friends and family (you all know who you are, but if you need to be called out, let me know). I am forever grateful for their steady praise, honest feedback, harsh criticism, and above all, endless encouragement. Any success I have as a writer will always be erected upon the foundation of their enthusiasm. To learn more about my journey, please read my blog.
The newest member of the pack. This young guy was found abandoned on the side of the freeway, just north of San Antonio. We took him in temporarily until a fitting home could be located. Then he became our foster fail. Captain is my wingman. He accompanies me to Home Depot or Lowes, even though neither of us knows what we are going to buy. He’s a perfect hiking companion, forever willing to take on the next adventure.
What Can I say about Ace? Part golden retriever, part chihuahua. Yes, you read that right. He gets his ball retrieving skills from his golden half and his nickname (Acehole) from his chihuahua heritage. Always jealous, this little guy has a heart of gold, even when he’s growling at Cap.
The lone lady in the bunch, Lulu does her best to put up with the boys. And she keeps them in their place. Super sweet, she loves to lie in the sun, soak up rays and just chill. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Sign me up.
The elder statesman. When we got Chip, he was a tiny furball. The poor fella always seems to have some challenges and is down to just a few teeth and a set of rickety hips. But he tries to keep up with the younger dogs and chases a ball like a pup half his age. He’s a grizzled veteran, but loyal to a fault. The heeler in him won’t be denied.