When I was a young child back in the early 1960's, I recall one warm summer day, building a "rocket ship" out of scrap wood in the back yard of the family home in Griffins Mills, a hamlet of East Aurora, New York. The yard was flanked by a massive corn field, and across the narrow street, in front of our house, was a beautiful colonial home with columns on the front porch that had once been owned by my grandparents, built during Civil War days, and according to the locals, had once been a stop for slaves during the days of the underground railroad.
I am pretty sure the inspiration to build that "rocket" was inspired by the Flash Gordon, Buck Rodgers and Space Patrol serials that played on our black and white television (colorized tvs at the time were expensive and not widely owned) and because I had such a vivid imagination, I had many daily adventures exploring the galaxy at large. This was my way of escaping from the reality that my mother and father were having marital problems and divorce was going to be unavoidable.
Later that Summer, my mother seperated from my father and moved us into a boarding house in East Aurora town proper. We stayed there for a few months, but poverty made my mother decide we would need to move back to Houston, Texas where her parents lived. And one morning which I vividly recall, she dressed us up and told my two younger sisters and I that we were going for a day trip to the zoo. We never made it to the zoo, instead we boarded a bus at the local Greyhound Bus station, and found ourselves on the road heading West. Houston was an amazing metropolis compared the the small town atmosphere of the past previous years, and my Uncle Charles picked us up from the bus depot and then took us shopping for clothing and toys on Main Street, to Foley's and Woolworth's and to eat lunch at James Coney Island. It was like a dream to a seven-year-old.
We moved into my grandparent's duplex near River Oaks, and attended Catholic school, while Mom worked two part-time jobs and supported us. Mom always found time to take us out to do something at least once a week as a family, mostly to movies. She loved horror movies and anything with Elvis in it the best. And because I loved to read comicbooks (mostly the DC, and Marvel superhero books) she always bought me a pile when she could afford to. She bought horror titles for herself, and then let me have those too after she had finished reading them. And those comicbooks fueled my imagination even more, and I began to script my first short stories around the second grade.
Over the coming years, my teachers recognized my creative writing skills and encouraged me to develop my skills, and read my tales to my classmates. By the end of my summer between Jr. High and High School, I had begun writing my first novel, a fictionalized coming-of-age teenage romance all about my first love and my best friend and his. The setting was the twin screened drive-in movie theater we both worked at that Summer and our daily adventures. Years later when I was married to my first wife Pam, an agent contracted to publish the book to a fairly popular press of the time and got me pretty decent advance, but when I went by his office to pick up a check a few days later, they were deserted and empty.
I was devastated, and that was a very bad time for my pride. I was working in the Special Features Advertising department of the Houston Chronicle at the time, and had just begun writing articles for a small business spotlight page regularly. About a year later, I got a phone call one evening at home from the Harris County District Attorney's office, and was told that the literary agent had been arrested, and was up for swindling several writers beside me, and wanted to pay me restitution to prevent further procecution. I took the money and learned a lesson about being too trustful in business affairs. The good thing that came out of that was the check I finally got helped pay the downpayment on my first home I bought.
WHen my first wife left and divorced me a few years later, I went back to school and majored in Journalism, taking a job as an editor on local community newspapers and working on the school newspaper staff at the same time. It was at one of those newspapers where I met my second wife Liz. I had begun to write and seriously submit short horror fiction, and began the writing of two novels, and as our relationship grew, we married and moved to a small rent house in Greens Bayou. There, surrounded by bayous and woods, I worked nights part time and wrote during the day. Driving myself hard to become published on a regular basis with little luck.
But I did acquire quite a pile of rejection letters from Magazine Editors with many hand written notes of encouragement to "Keep trying," and I did. One day I received a letter from one of the fiction editors at Cavalier Magazine (a Men's magazine that published quite of bit of horror and science fiction shorts) rejecting my submission, but encouraging me to not only keep writing, but to also consider trying to get my work published in hard cover or paperback anthology format. Disappointed again, I did not even show my wife Liz the letter. But she found it on my desk, read it, and called out for me. "Do you know who the person that wrote this to you is? she asked. I said "No." and she informed me it was Nye Willden, the fiction editor who had discovered and published early Stephen King short fiction. All of a sudden, I was excited again, and began writing even more.
My shorts were soon included in printed in small press anthologies, and on Internet sites. This year, I am semi-retired, but now write more than ever and 3-4 novels/collections are scheduled for publication in eBook and Print for 2018. Check my blog from time to time and I will share news and writing tips that might just inspire you to write more! Happy New Year 2018!