I have often been asked what got me started on writing, and it is kind of an interesting story. When I worked for a company called The Regence Group, as a manager, I had offices in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and Salk Lake City, Utah. As you can imagined, I traveled a lot. It was one of those “It’s Tuesday so I must be in Seattle” kind of thing. Along with working on my laptop finishing reports, writing reviews and all the other bureaucracy of working for a living in the management world, I would also read. I have always been an avid reader in fiction (westerns, sci-fi, adventure) and in non-fiction in WW2 history—mostly in naval battles since I am a former Navy man.
On one of my many round trips between Tacoma and Portland, I had forgotten I was nearly finished with the book I was reading. So, walking between my Portland office and the train station, I passed a used bookstore where I traded in my completed book for another one to read. It sounded so good when I read the back-cover info, but boy was it wrong. I suffered through about sixty pages and couldn’t take it anymore. I told myself I could have written a story better that what this thing was. The characters were awful, the dialogues were forced and the story itself was so unbelievable I gave up on reading it.
Pulling out my laptop, I start rewriting the story in how I thought it should have been done. To my surprise, the words flew off my fingers and into a Word document so fast I had rewritten a good portion of it before I got back to Tacoma. A writer was born… Of course, I did not use it, as that would have been plagiarism. What it did do was give me an idea for my own story that I began to avidly work on during my travels. In the end, I completed an early version called The Kraccks Encounter. It was a great story, but I made the mistake of making the alien names too hard to pronounce—thanks to feedback from friends and family that were my test readers. I also got lost in too much detail.
When I later worked in Bakersfield as the CIO for Kern Health Systems, I joined a monthly Writers of Kern club where I learned a lot in structure, dialogue writing and formatting a story. Scrapping The Kraccks Encounter, but holding onto the concept, I rewrote it as The Chance Encounter. I fell in love with the character so much that I decided to keep her going, and the Linda Eccles series was born.
When I read the book, The Road, it got me thinking about what it would be like to actually try to live in a world so rapidly changed by an apocalyptic event. I wanted my story to be realistic in how a person would respond to that sudden loss of everything and having to start life over. Sleeping Through the Nightmare came into fruition in writing that story. However, like my Linda character, I fell in love with Pete and April and their story that I had to keep it going. Being a hard-core male, who cries at nothing, I did tear up when I wrote the final pages of the last book that closed out the Gibbons series. It hurt my ego but gave me a lesson in how deeply a writer can get pulled into their characters. They are like our children that finally leave the nest, never to return.