(I don’t have the spiritual gift of brevity, but I promise I’ll try.)
I live in Arkansas, “The Natural State.” I think they came up with that nickname because there’s a whole lotta nothing (aka “natural areas”) between the inhabited dots on the Arkansas map. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve lived in many places, and Arkansas is one of the best—except for the heat and humidity of summer. That’s the price we pay for an easy winter. It’s a price I can handle. I grew up in Erie, PA, one of the world’s best places for those who love “lake effect” snow. I’ve had enough snow to last well beyond the rest of my life.
I’m a novelist. Unpublished at this writing, but I reserve the right to edit this paragraph. Unlike earlier versions of this page, I’ll not be making any bold predictions about when that edit will occur. It’s been a long and winding road, and as long as I stay between the ditches I’ll reach my destination when the time is right.
I’m also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in national magazines like Christian Single and Marriage Partnership. I successfully sold the very first magazine article I ever wrote for a whopping sixty-four dollars. The man who was my Pastor at the time has yet to forgive me for that, but I’m sure he takes comfort in knowing I now have a lovely collection of rejection letters just like his, but not as big.
I’m also a speaker and actor, though I haven’t done much along that line recently. My whole creative focus has been on mastering the craft of writing great fiction. In 2008, I won First Place in Contemporary Fiction by the ACFW Genesis competition for unpublished novelists. I’m living proof that winning contests—even impressive national-level contests—doesn’t guarantee publication. It would be easy to blame it on the economy, but that had very little to do with it.
You see, I’m also living proof that you can’t expect God to bless you when you refuse to follow his call. Back in 2005 when I began to focus on fiction, He began nudging me toward writing for kids and I began saying no. I wanted no part of reliving my childhood, a required part of writing for children. I wrote some great adult novels, signed with an agent, but couldn’t sell one of those manuscripts if I printed it on hundred-dollar bills.
In 2010, I finally said yes and began writing seriously for the middle grade/early teen audience. I’m now up to my neck in a series that is some of the best writing of my life, my agent is so excited about the first book she can hardly stand it, and some very impressive authors I’ve met are fully expecting me to see me on the shelf one day. And I’m humbled by it all.
I married Sharon, the love of my life, in 1990. Our daughter, Sara, is a teacher at Gibbs Magnet School in Little Rock, where she teaches German at the Elementary (K-5) level. Sara was Sharon’s daughter before she was mine (we were both married before), but she’s definitely mine too, and I have the receipts to prove it. I adopted Sara in 1992, and I’m extremely proud of the woman that she has become.
I am a blatant Christian. Before you jump to any conclusions about that tag, let me assure you that I don’t go around beating people with my Bible or using my faith as a weapon. don’t write “evangelistic” fiction. I embrace the philosophy of C.S. Lewis, who once said, “What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects — with their Christianity latent.”