When I read these Bio pages, I can’t help but laugh. They are almost always written in the third person. “The artist learned his craft on the plains of Colorado, where his parents and sheep used to roam,” “His writing career started carving stone tablets,” and that sort of silliness. You all know what I’m talking about. Fact of the matter is that these blurbs are rarely written by someone who doesn’t also happen to be the subject of the text. I’m dispensing with that here. I am the one writing this stuff about myself, so none of this “he was” stuff — except in those passages where I want to be all pretentious.
Like most creative people, I began when I was very young, if not earlier. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing something creative. Growing up, I went through pad after pad of newsprint, scores of watercolor sets, and I’d draw with anything close at hand that would leave some sort of mark or impression. During those periods when my mom was all stay-at-home, she’d engage in a variety of media: from sculpting in clay to painting with oils, which did nothing but whet my appetite to be able to make images where none had existed before.
Writing started a little later, but not by much. I wrote my first story when I was six. It was about “moonsters” (yep, science fiction even then) — typed on my father’s portable typewriter, without margins, on a sheet of 11 x 14″ yellow legal paper. FYI: I still have that typewriter. I haven’t stopped.
It’s via that route that most of my creative education has come: from doing, not by being taught. The last art class I took was in Jr. High in the mid 1970s, and with the exception of one 2-day screenwriting seminar in the early 90s, I haven’t had a formal writing class. It’s pretty much been a combination of trial and error, books, and being put in positions where what I knew about art or writing was of some import to those around me. Personally, I finger high school yearbook for setting me down this professional road. It’s there that I learned the fundamentals of publishing, layout, touch-typing, and quick-and-dirty art that has seen me through any number of jobs from photography to being the production (i.e. art) manager for two advertising papers at the same time.
With this background in hand, one day I walked into an art gallery in Albuquerque’s Old Town and looked at some pretty amazing artwork by the scratchboard artist Kathy Morrow. The gallery manager pointed at one of the $15,000 works (the price has since risen considerably) and asked if I could do work like that. Cocky little me said that I could, but I’d have to take a month or so to learn the medium. We left it at that. A little while later, I came back with a couple of small scratchboard works. The manager was impressed enough that once framing was done, there was work done by li’l ol’ me hanging on the wall next to art selling for five-figures. Not too shabby for a self-taught schmoe like me.
My writing career started in the late 80s. I first caught the bug when I got to sit in with a group developing a short film. My first screenplay was the result of an advertisement requiring the first three pages of a screenplay. Since I didn’t have one handy, I slapped something together. With the itch needing scratching, I finished the script. That earned me my first ex-agent and not too long after, my first option (when I was between agents). After more than a decade, it was clear that while my scripts were getting read, my not being in Los Angeles was a problem. I shifted to prose. Being a natural screenwriter, writing stories and novels has been a challenge, but I seem to have gotten the hang of it.
Aside from the creative arts stuff, I’ve also been one of those pesky geek sort of fellows. I’ve played with computers since the late 1960s. My major area of concentration at the University of Maryland was computer science (also psychology) while I was also writing code and teaching computer languages in the space sciences division of the Naval Research Lab. As you can imagine, I’ve gotten to play/work on a lot of different computers. The most fun (at least, at the time) was the Commodore Amiga. The least fun? Macs, of all ilks. For some reason they have been my nemeses.
More personally: I’m a native New Mexican mutt. While I most of my schooling was in the Washington, DC area, I now find myself back in my home state. I’ve been a vegetarian since the very early 80s. I’m a very longtime fan of women’s basketball and women’s soccer. I like animals, though “dog-sized” dogs are the easiest for me to pal around with. A writing confession: I knowingly use ellipses much more than I should. But if such a little thing gives you joy, I say go with it.
And that’s about it. Doubtless it was more than you wanted to know — which is why agents and publishers really need to not have me write my own bio.