My grandmother told me that when I was very young I would tell her these elaborate stories about some small animal caught in a trap and how it managed to escape. I don’t remember that. I wrote my first story when I was 10 and continued writing a stories throughout my high school years.
I just wrote stories, not caring much about technique or style. But the month before starting my senior year in high school, I decided to become a professional writer, and that meant I would have to learn to write well enough that someone not in my family or immediate circle or friends would want to read my stories. After nearly a year of study and practice, I felt I was ready to let the world marvel at my genius. I sent a story to The New Yorker, which promptly sent it back.
I collected lots and lots of rejection slips over the next few years, but I’d heard that F. Scott Fitzgerald had collected enough rejection slips to wallpaper a room, and that kept me going. I majored in English at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL) with an emphasis on writing, took a writing workshop one summer, and pestered lots of people to read my stories and give me honest feedback. And I did lots of writing.
Ironically, my first sales were nonfiction—several articles to Grit, a national weekly newspaper. A few years later I sold my first short story, Clinical Evaluation, to an anthology called The New Surrealists. I continued writing newspaper and magazine articles, including working on assignment for Midwest Food Service News, Grassroots Nebraska, and Midlands Business Journal, which has been my longest professional association to date. I copyedited manuscripts for Cliffs Notes and even wrote a Cliffs Notes on Willa Cather’s My Antonia.
But fiction has remained my major focus. I founded a publishing company which published several trade paperback books, including two small press bestsellers, one of which was a collection of horror stories—October Dreams—that Jeff Mason and I edited. The other anthology I edited—The Pelican in the Desert—was a collection of farm stories which was used for several semesters in a UNL English class. Two of the stories in that collection (including my own story “Ball of Fire”) were nominated for The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small presses.
Currently available in digital and paperback are my novel In Human Form (I’m currently writing a sequel to be published in early fall 2019) and my short story collection The Moaning Rocks and Other Stories, which contains several of my favorite stories ranging through three genres—contemporary, science fiction, and horror.
I’ve served as auditor, treasurer, and president of the Nebraska Writers Guild. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a neurotic dog named Mason (a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix) and a blue-eyed cat named Whiskers who thinks he owns the place.