Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I live in Northern California with my wife, daughter, and Larry (the bunny). I’ve traveled extensively on five continents for business and pleasure, and derive a sense of wonder and adventure from the places I go and the people I meet. Funny things always happen, and my first published book, “Missions Accomplished and some funny business along the way” represents just 50 of these silly anecdotes — multiple sequels are in the works.
My passions include reading, geography, science, astronomy, space, science fiction, history, travel, politics, language, scuba, and great food.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Missions Accomplished and some funny business along the way” was inspired by friends who found the travel stories I told them to be amazing and incredibly funny. I’d heard “You should write a book” enough times that I finally did. Once I got started, it became obvious that one book would not be nearly enough to capture all the best travel stories I’d experienced. “Missions Accomplished” is the tip of the iceberg.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My stories generally get from “gleam in the eye” onto paper in an evolution like this: first, someone tells me what I just said makes for a great story; I then jot it down as a single bullet point in my day planner or notebook, before it gets added to a long list of story ideas on my laptop. Next, is actually writing the story. I prefer to write outdoors in the evening for 60 to 90 minutes, usually long enough to finish one or two stories. I start by deciding if this is a “character” story or “event” story. I then write it start to finish with the emphasis on the amusing aspects of the character and twists and turns of the event. Often, I’ll find that I’ve embedded a very short second story inside the first; some of these work great, others I’ll then decide should be split into two (or three) shorter, separate tales. I use the services of a good friend who knows me and knows good story-telling; she has strict marching orders to slash any and all excess words, to keep the story fast and fluid. I’ll then do two very fast edits, one for content to ensure the “magic” I intended comes through, and the final edit for grammar and mechanics.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I grew up reading science fiction. Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuinn, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, David Brin and Joe Haldeman are among my favorite writers. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is my favorite book — it tells one possible tale of human origins and rings more true today than ever as we see the rise of AI and space travel is about to become commonplace thanks to folks like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
What are you working on now?
More funny travel stories. “More Missions Accomplished” will be released in June 2018. I’m also writing a book on a totally different topic with a much more serious focus. “Shooting the Elephant in the Room” is a step-by-step recipe for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the face of Earth. Like the proverbial elephant-in-the-room, we simply don’t talk about them. After more than 70 years, these weapons have out-lived their usefulness and are now nothing more than an expensive threat to humanity’s continued existence. I’ve done considerable thinking and research and my book will outline a solid path to these weapons elimination. No actual elephants will be harmed, of course.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I started with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. I wasn’t shy about asking them to buy my book. I’m also looking for radio interviews, public speaking venues, and other forums to entertain people while promoting the book. Online, I let Amazon and associated resources help promote it, and given more books heading for publication soon, will shortly have my own website.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read the kind of writing that you’re pursuing. Read at least one or two books a week.
Figure out how many hours a week you can write, and what is the best time to do this writing. For me, one to two hours a day four days a week was plenty to get my first book done in a reasonable timeframe (less than six months). If nothing else, make sure you’re averaging one page per day. Set a target date for publication, and do everything in your power to hit that date.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t panic. Always know where your towel is. Keep an open mind. Be your own worst critic, and always find a way to forgive others and especially yourself. Follow your passion. Don’t be afraid to discuss religion, politics, or — if you’re really brave — sports. Be nice.
What are you reading now?
“Endurance” by Scott Kelly. Kurlansky’s “1968: The Year that Rocked the World.” Bryson’s “I’m New Here Myself.” A number of books on how to relate with your teenager (they help). I just finished re-reading “Yeager: An autobiography” by Chuck Yeager, and am ready to start re-reading “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe.
What’s next for you as a writer?
The audio version of “Missions Accomplished” and two to three sequels, followed by “Shooting the Elephant in the Room”. After that, it’s unclear, but the bug has bitten, so there’ll be more.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
“2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Complete Works of William Shakespeare,” and “The Way Things Work” by David Macauley