I was born in Clinton, Iowa in July a long, long time ago when there were still a few of the smaller dinosaurs (Procompsognathus, anyone?) scurrying about in the cornfields. I grew up weird, being told by a science teacher in 9th grade that I was “warped,” which delighted my classmates, thus securing, on a scientific basis, future behaviors. In that same pivotal freshman year, I was also shown to the principal’s office five times for what I would call “being a rascal” but he called it “being an incorrigible.” The last visit provoked anger when, threatened to be sent to the State Training School for Boys in Eldora, I asked, innocently, “Do they have a basketball team?” My question went unanswered.
In high school, my interest in college was discouraged by guidance counselors, who told me that, if I somehow got into a college, I would have to be a P.E. major. But I liked stories, which I was encouraged to write by Mr. Olson in Creative Writing class my senior year in high school. It all worked out. Also, in high school, I hit myself in the head with a baseball bat. (Don’t think about that too much, please.) I earned some college degrees, served in the USAF in the Philippines and Massachusetts, and spent one year hitching around Europe and ending up on a kibbutz in Israel. I am thankful to the USAF for, through them, I met my long-suffering wife, Lisa, who is beautiful, brilliant, and gifted as a teacher. I mean, how would you like to teach 9th graders English all year long? Yet, she loves it and is successful as well, being a National Board Certified educator.
I have traveled in 43 states and 23 countries, fleeing sordid criminal records checks.
We have two grown daughters: Caitlin, a published history professor in New England; and Rowe, a published poet here in South Carolina. So, writing runs deep in our family. As for me, so do rejections. I’ve had dozens upon dozens, but I’ve also had the occasional published piece and a check in the mail from time to time. My work has appeared several times in Reader’s Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall’s, THE SIGN, Dynamic Years, Today’s Health, Newberry Magazine and a couple of literary magazines: The Reedy River Review and The Mountain Laurel. I wrote a novel as part of a three-book monograph series for The National Institute of Mental Health (oh, the irony, for someone designated “warped” as a child!), entitled Son-up, Son-down. I also had the privilege of being a featured columnist in the Morganton (N.C.) News Herald and the Clinton (S.C.) Chronicle. Most of my stuff involves making fun of myself. There’s just so much material.
I have to admit I’m excited about my forthcoming commercial fiction novel, Signs of Struggle, due out this coming autumn (autumn is a better word than “fall”). When it’s ready for purchase, believe me, I’ll let you know, and I’ll post details along with a synopsis. The greatest influences on my writing, and my favorite authors? Mark Twain, Joseph Heller, Robert B. Parker, Ron Rash, Sherri Reynolds, and Marilyn Robinson pretty much tell the story.
Now, a word about the title of my blog, “Curly, Larry, and me.” I love The Three Stooges. That should tell you something. Although I’m an English professor, I am not an intellectual, a scholar, or a grammarian. I just love stories and I love to write, and the college encourages me in that self-destructive behavior. And my tag line, “Don’t ask the question if you can’t stand the answer” comes to me from a former Green Beret and SWAT Team member who said that to me once and it stuck.
Enough for this post. I promise to write regularly, faithfully, and on occasion, warpedly. (I told you I am not a grammarian.) Tell your friends if you like my blog. I hope you will. More later.