Who I am…

I am a writer and father. I have written an adult novel, three children’s books and over fifty short stories. In this blog you will see meditations on writing, teaching, reading and fatherhood.

As long as I can remember I’ve loved to write. When I was a young I poured my awkward teenage heart into angst-ridden diaries until something extraordinary happened. Magical. Unbelievable. I got a girlfriend. Poof. My writing dried to a trickle until several years later. After leaving home I dove into music and practiced the saxophone and singing as if my life depended on it. I saw my older brother writing songs. Inspired, I began to work at the guitar and fill page after page with verse. I spent years doing this, capturing elusive feelings in verse, like trying to grab a bird in flight. I wrote over 300 songs, made demos and shopped them around. I had some heartbreaking close calls. Carlos Santana kept one of my songs. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins wanted to record one of my tunes and Joe Cocker’s manager was interested in me as an artist. Unfortunately, they all passed.

Determined to continue, I began to work in prose. Short stories were a good fit. They seemed more possible than a book. Considering those stories now, I realize they were primarily about relationships. Father/son, mother/daughter, brother/sister, and so on. How did people decide to live their lives? Follow their dreams? Sabotage their own hearts? During this time I read aloud to my young son several nights a week. We plowed through the classics; Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, Wizard of Oz, Huckleberry Finn and many others. As read to my son I had a crazy thought…why not me? Why not now? I began my first children’s book, The Cellar Door. I wrote the story in longhand and typed it into my computer. I wrote my son into the story, made him the main character, Sam Bixby, and gave him formidable challenges and excellent skills with which to address them. I revised my first draft and began to read it to my son. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Any creation which has any wholeness and harmoniousness, I suspect, was made by an artist or inventor with an audience of one in mind.” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame are perfect examples of this (the character of Toad was based on Grahame’s son). My son was a great audience of one. He gave me valuable feedback about what worked and what didn’t. Of course, he was always curious to see what kind of trouble his alter ego Sam got into. Since then I have written two more books in the series. Volume two is entitled: Into the Painting. It’s mostly done, save for tweaks and revisions. The third book, Between the Pages is the longest and most complex of the three. The main character (Sam Bixby) is now fifteen years old. He meets his father when he was young and together they travel to another world filled with wild and wooly adventures. One of the great challenges of magical/fantasy/adventure writing is to make the fantastical feel real. So the reader can suspend their disbelief and enter the work immediately. The Cellar Door, the first book in my three-part series has now been published by Belltown Press.

This past year I have visited many elementary and middle schools in the Puget Sound area. On my author visits I read from the book, take questions, go over some essential rules of writing, and, depending on the age of the students, we do a writing or drawing activity. I find the younger students like to draw and the older ones are more interested in writing.

In this blog I will explore reading aloud, writing prompts and activities for young and old alike, and the joys and challenges of fatherhood. Thanks for stopping by.