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I was born and raised in the wilds of Iowa… well, back when I was growing up there, playing in the woods, hills and down by the river behind our house certainly seemed like the wilds. Of course, when I reached the magical age of sixteen… the “wilds” got even wilder… with my help. Growing up and going to school in my small hometown is something I have never regretted… there was a lot to learn in a small town – naiveté being one of the greater lessons. I learned a lot in the short seventeen years I lived there.
One of the things learned back then was to take life in short bursts (it took a long time for me to learn that), since then, I never rush into anything and weigh every option carefully… my life, from art school graduation on, took on that kind of lifestyle. I moved from Denison (population then, 4500) to Fremont, Nebraska (population then, approximately 10,000) with a high school friend (took quite a bit of coercion before I committed). Once there, it took several years for me to decide what to do with the rest of my life… I finally settled on art school. On to Omaha (population then approximately 100,000, a huge city compared to the previous) and commercial art school. Upon graduation, I was offered a job at a small ad agency… I accepted and worked there for a while before I realized my future wasn’t going anywhere ( I used to cat-nap in the afternoons, there was nothing for me to do!). The next step was to move to a much larger city… that decision took three months. I finally gave my notice, packed up my ‘64 Impala and moved. I’ve been in Denver, ColoRODo since May, 1966. Suffice to say I’ve never looked back.
All this time, I played with cars… and today, cars are my life… I’ve been playing with them since I was 16… in 2001, when the idea for these stories (Bangin’ Gears & Bustin’ Heads) came about, I’d just completed a fiction writing course and the lesson that stuck in my mind was that old line: “Write what you know.” During the course, I’d gotten an idea for a great novel (Arsenal Code RED) – a thriller about the federal government’s storage area within the city limits of Denver and holding eight million gallons of nerve gasses. As an aside, this is a story about two 15 year-old computer whizzes, among other characters, an airliner crash and a nerve gas heist. I had been working on that story and found the research tedious… I felt I didn’t know the subject well enough… so… in October, 2002, I wrote one automobile related short story about me getting my driver’s license, how it affected me and placed it on a web site I was perusing, it’s called the Jalopy Journal (H.A.M.B pages). The story was met with great enthusiasm… I was stoked. I wrote another, in less than three days… placed it on the site the next Friday nite… gave it a name too… called it The Friday Nite Read (along with a subtitle). The readership grew, the comments became more varied. Did I find a vein? Did I find a group that could relate to my stories? Did I just commit to something? Yes… I was enjoying the notoriety and wrote another… placed it on the board… the comments/replies doubled. I let a Friday nite slide by, nearly everyone on the board wanted to know where the FNR was… I posted another the next Friday and another the next Friday… after thirteen stories I asked board members if they’d had enough… they did not and asked for more. I needed to do something for the site’s owner, since I was using his “bandwidth.” I auctioned off the first 13 stories, assembled in manuscript form and donated the monetary proceeds to him. I wrote more stories and did Friday nights for the next 13 weeks, until April. I decided to quit writing them and concentrate on the novel I wanted to get published. Ending the stories met with such opposition I decided to auction one complete set of 26 stories… with the proceeds again going to the site owner.
Some time before I ended the stories, I was approached by two people: Jim Aust (former) editor of GoodGuy’s Gazette and Brandon Flannery, (former editor) of CK Deluxe. Brandon asked me to write a story for his magazine… I wrote an exclusive story, it appeared in a later issue. Jim Aust asked if I’d like to write a column for GoodGuy’s Gazette… of course, I jumped right in (yeah… riiiii-iight!!)! I was a bit intimidated at the thought. He told me he loved the stories of the 1960’s and figured the members of GoodGuy’s would as well. In March, 2003, I sent in three… to test the waters… my column would start with the May issue. When the May issue came out, he asked for three more and sent me a check for all six… needless to say I was hooked. Shortly after that I received a check from Brandon… hey, I like this, getting paid for putting words on paper.
Based on what I was hearing from Jim, and how popular the stories were, I assembled the 26 I had in chronological order, stole part of my GoodGuy’s column title, added to it and came up with the title… then submitted the entire manuscript to automotive type publishers: Motorbooks International and Krause Publications to name just a few, certain they would jump on it because of its popularity on the website. I got rejection letters for all, except one – an Australian publisher, Grafitti Publishing… matter of fact, I’m still waiting for his letter. Needless to say I was dejected… oh well, their loss. But, like the proverbial dark cloud, the silver lining appeared in my mailbox the next day… my GG’s Gazette. Yep, right there on page 16… my column… and I had more fans via their letters section… Dejection turned to inspiration, these stories needed to be published.
At this point, the manuscript needed something more tho… I dissected each of the stories, figured the why’s, what-fors, the aftermath and the reasons for doing what “we” did back then and jotted down those notes… soon I had several pages of ‘running commentary’. I placed myself back in that time and proceeded to explain my actions… and the consequences of the nut I was. Before long, the majority of the stories had explanation… I assembled that into one huge manuscript and sent it off to a publisher I’d discovered.
Some time later the publisher sent back a letter asking me if I had pictures to go with it. I dug thru my sister’s old albums, came up with several, captioned them and sent them off. A few weeks later, their acceptance letter arrived.
Damn!!! I am going to be published. I am going to have my own book. I am going to be a published author. I am going to join the ranks of writers such as Stephen King, John Clancy, Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, et al.
You believe that? Neither do I. I could never join THEIR ranks, but getting published is one thing a lot of people wish would happen (and a lot of writers struggle for)… and so did I, quite a few years ago.
While all of this sounds like magic, trust me, it’s not… perseverance is the key. May I say if you’re a writer and you don’t find a publisher that likes your stuff, keep sending it out, you will find one. Not everyone likes the same thing as the next guy… keep writing and never give up.
Is Bangin’ Gears & Bustin’ Heads a literary work? Hardly. I’ve never considered my writing as literary… and I cannot stand reading works that use so many huge words a dictionary is needed alongside the book… my education doesn’t allow that type of reading, and neither is the second book of this series. Yes, you read that correctly… the newest book in the series was released in June of 2006… its title: Fast Cars, 4-speeds & Fist-Fights. If you couldn’t get enough of Bangin’ Gears, here’s the opportunity to get 24 more episodes… basically more of the same, and a couple of fictional stories are included.
Fast Cars, 4-speeds & Fist-Fights (as well as Bangin’ Gears) is written in such a way that it’s like I’m sitting next to you telling you a story in everyday conversation. Both books are available on Amazon.com.
The Arsenal Code RED manuscript is finished and out to several agents at this time and I’m currently working on Secrets So Sinister (an environmental thriller set against the federal government’s Rocky Flats) situated on the western outskirts of Denver… maker of plutonium triggers for nuclear bombs… and covering several thousand acres totally polluted and an EPA Super-fund clean-up site. The story revolves around Cameron Bishop, a just graduated environmental lawyer, and a secret map he finds in his deceased father’s locked trunk. Hopefully, the writing on that one will progress without interruption.
Anyway, thanx for visiting my site… hope you enjoy the books.