After serving as a pastor, I went into the Army as a chaplain. Now retired from the military, I’m teaching writing at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. My wife (Linda) is a literature professor at Southeastern University, and chair of the Department of Humanities. We have three sons and eight grandchildren. We love dogs, and currently have a tri-color beagle. Personal interests include movies and plays, music, travel, sports, and games. And reading, of course!
When I was a kid, my brothers and sister and I would tell stories, making them up on the fly. We wrote poetry – well, more like silly rhymes – and produced plays and skits. As an adult, I told stories to my children and wrote poems for family events such as reunions, birthdays, and holiday get-togethers. I’ve published a half dozen or so articles in religious and military magazines.
Knowing that I wanted to start writing seriously after getting out of the Army, I started reading books on writing by Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Elizabeth George. I read William Zinsser, Francine Prose, PD James, and many others. Each writer taught me something.
In 2006, My wife and I were at a Barnes & Noble on a Friday night in Atlanta. After getting a Frappuccino and Chai Tea Latte, we separated to browse. That’s when I discovered Josip Novakovich’s book, Writing Fiction Step By Step. I bought it, read it, then went back to get his Fiction Writer’s Workshop. After reading the second book, I prayed that someday I would meet the man and study writing under his tutelage. Seven years later, living in Florida, I inquired about the MFA at the University of Tampa and discovered that he was one of the fly-in teachers for the program. Josip has been my writing mentor the past two years – a literal answer to prayer. I had a dual focus of Fiction and Non-Fiction because I write in multiple genres. Two other key mentors were Don Morrill and John Capouya. John was my guide in the writing of the thesis.
The MFA thesis was a book about my military ministry experience in Iraq. My doctoral dissertation, which I hope to put into book form, was on the Biblical Principles of Marriage. Linda and I plan to write a companion devotional book for couples along the same themes. Plus, I have a collection of stories about interracial experiences I’ve had starting when I was a kid in Boston and then in Charleston. Those are my first four book projects. I also hope to prepare shorter pieces such as articles, short stories, and microfiction along the way.
There are several reasons why I write:
To Influence: There are so many people who have no clue how to make a marriage work. Many don’t know how to parent effectively. Others don’t know how to live their lives meaningfully and productively. Many Christians don’t seem to know how to live a godly life. I think I have something to offer, and hope to influence people towards happy, successful, effective Christianity and relationships.
To Entertain: In the same way good teaching and preaching must be interesting and fun, good writing has to have an entertainment quality as well. St. Paul wrote that we should speak the truth in love. I would add this: we should also be eloquent, interesting, and fun. Adding these values gets the message across and makes it memorable, increasing the impact on our readers.
To Inspire: Throughout my life as a pastor and a chaplain, I’ve had the privilege of building friendships with people, and then from that relationship encourage them in their journey of faith. It’s now my desire to do that through my writing – to help people develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, to understand the Bible better, and to be more effective in their personal and public life.
Because It’s Fun: Writing is a lot of fun, something I really enjoy. Sure, it can be hard work. But to get an idea for a story or an inspirational piece and then to watch it take shape in front of me is just a lot of fun. I even enjoy editing, refining, and rewriting.
Because I Sense a Calling: As I prayed about what the Lord would want me to do when I got out of the Army, I specifically felt the Lord saying he wanted me to preach, teach, mentor, and write. Therefore, I want to be as good at each of these tasks as I can be.