Tell us about yourself and your books.:
Becoming a writer wasn’t even on my bucket list. My professional life had been spent in the aviation business. I’m now 71 years old, and it astounds me how God could have blessed someone like me—one who has made so many mistakes along the way.
Our aircraft companies supported outreaches to destitute people around the world, and even sponsored a chaplaincy program in a Texas facility for troubled youth. But I became burned out after so long and decided to retire at the age of 52. That’s when the real trouble started, the beginning of a sixteen-year-long wilderness in my life.
First, we lost 80% of our retirement in the financial markets crash of the year 2000. After that, I lived in a state of depression and panic for several years. It was a type of PTSD, I realize now. I tried hard to trust God through it all, but eventually I didn’t even trust myself any longer.
Thereafter, I failed at everything I tried. After sixteen years, I was so defeated that I could no longer see any purpose for my life. I ran out of options, and the boredom coupled with failure was killing me. I reached the point of wanting God to just take me home.
Through it all, my wife Carla was a rock. She never wavered in her trust for me or for her Lord. She’s my hero. I wish I were more like she is.
After I came to the end of myself, something miraculous happened. One night, out of nowhere a story invaded my head about a US Marine pilot who . . . well you get the picture—Cody Musket, a man who has reached the point of desperation, who meets a heroic woman whose faith is unbreakable.
The story grew in my head for months, but it never occurred to me to write a book. (Doofus!) I even asked God to take this story out of my head because it was disrupting my life. Finally, after about six months, I told Carla about the story. I told her I was gonna go crazy if I didn’t at least write it down. She said, “I think you should.” That’s it. “I think you should.”
I began to write feverishly and could not stop for two years. I studied hard to learn how to write fiction. No Pit So Deep, The Cody Musket Story was released in 2016 as a stand-alone novel, and I have now expanded this saga to a four-book series with a combined 440 customer reviews from around the world, many of which reveal lives that have been impacted. The first book has been on the Kindle #1 Bestseller list twice, and has won several awards.
So, there I was just a few years ago, thinking my life was over. Feeling abandoned. But if my life had not slowed down to an agonizing crawl, I would never have written this story. If I had achieved the retirement I had always dreamed about, I might have missed a greater destiny.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Writers’ habits differ according to personality and purpose. I’m not striving to become known as an author, but I would love it if my character, Cody Musket, and his counterpart, Brandi Barnes, became household names. Their stories represent us all.
What authors have influenced you?
When I was 8 years old, I read The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley. Even though I was a kid at the time, that one still stands out. The Zorro character had honor and purpose.
At the age of 12, I read Serenade to the Big Bird, a personal memoir by Bert Stiles, a WWII US bomber pilot.
In recent years, Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and The Three Battlegrounds by Francis Fragipane both had a tremendous impact on me.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I can only advise myself, because we all have different goals. Here is my personal mantra: Write better but fewer books. I feel that many authors sell themselves short because they are rushed, thinking that the more books they write in a given amount of time, the more popular they will become. That only works if your finished product is the very BEST you can produce. Our modern culture is held hostage by time. Time can be a tyrant, ticking away like a relentless metronome in your mind, robbing you of your best creativity. Don’t be afraid to set aside your book for a few weeks, then come back to it and read what you’ve written. You will be surprised at what you see. That’s when my greatest creativity seems to kick in.
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