Over the course of anyone’s life, there are certain things that mold their personality into the person they eventually become. Things like the socioeconomic status of their parents, country, and culture they’re born into, education, etc. My life is no different, so this is going to be a brief recollection of significant events in my life that helped me develop into the person and writer that I am today.
I was born in a small town (Cordele) in South Georgia during the late 1960s. I’m the oldest of three siblings. My mother was from a lower-middle-class family and was only 19 when I was born, both of her parents had worked when she was a child. My dad came from much humbler beginnings as he had grown up poor, with a mostly absent father.
Before my 2nd birthday, my father reenlisted in the army. He had already done one tour in Vietnam, but he had gotten out not long after marrying my mother. This was probably one of the most important turning points in my life. After dad completed his second tour in Vietnam, he decided to make the army a career and instead of growing up in South Georgia, I grew up on army bases across the U.S. and abroad. I grew up in places like Fort Meade Maryland, where my brother was born, Fort Clayton Panama, where my sister was born, Fort Sill Oklahoma, and Fort Campbell Kentucky.
Growing up an army brat had its advantages and disadvantages. Most of my childhood was spent in military housing on army bases. Soldiers are housed according to rank and that generally aligns with age, so I had lots of kids in the neighborhood to play with. Of course, we moved around a lot, and I was constantly making new friends. Also, schools on military bases are generally top-notch, and I was fortunate to receive a good education.
Another important factor in my formative years was the attitude of my parents towards education and learning in general. Until I was a junior in high school, my mother was a stay at home mom. She always spent time with us going over homework and anything we were having trouble with at school, but she didn’t stop there. When we were young, mom read to us nearly every night and as we got older, she encouraged us to read whatever caught our interest. We had subscriptions to magazines like National Geographic and later Discovery Magazine. We often discussed articles in the magazines as well. Mom always encouraged us to learn about the natural world and that has driven me my entire life to know everything that I can about our planet, it’s many ecosystems as well as human evolution. Dad was the history buff and always had stories that had some historical relevance.
I grew up reading classics like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Robinson Crusoe, and The Black Stallion, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started falling in love with science fiction. I believe the first science fiction novel I read was The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, but I quickly moved on to the many Robert Heinlein novels like Have Spacesuit will Travel. Then I found the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov and I knew I had to read more.
During my senior year of high school, I took an English class called, of all things, ‘Science Fiction’. I couldn’t believe that I could get credit for reading science fiction! This is where I was introduced to Dune by Frank Herbert and it changed my outlook on writing forever. I’ve read the entire Dune series about ten times, maybe more. We had to write a short story for this class, and this is when I discovered I enjoyed writing. My story was called A Voice From The Past and it was my first attempt at writing. The plot was remarkably similar to the 2000 Movie, Mission To Mars. I guess I should have turned my story into a screenplay! Just kidding, even though I received an A for effort and imagination, my first short story was exactly what you’d expect from a teenager’s first real attempt at writing.
After 3 years in the army, I decided to utilize the G.I. bill and go to college, as that was the main reason I joined the army after high school. After a quarter of going to Georgia Southwestern College, my Aunt told me that she was going to start nursing school and that she’d see me around campus in the Fall. I hadn’t considered nursing as a career so I did some research and decided I would change my major to nursing.
Didn’t do any writing while I was in nursing school, other than for assignments. After I graduated and started working as an emergency room nurse, I did write several short stories and poems. All my short stories from this period were rudimentary and frankly not good but some of my poetry wasn’t half bad.
After working six years as an ER nurse I felt like I was getting burned out and needed a change in careers. I decided that I wanted to go back to school for a second degree, but I wanted to get it in something that really interested me. I felt like I needed to have fun while learning. I did some serious soul searching and finally landed on anthropology. The two and half years at the University of Georgia were probably some of the best years of my life. I enjoyed every class I took, even the non-major ones. Learning about culture and how it shapes us and drives everyday life changed my world view in a number of ways and helped me in my nursing career. How culture affects people’s health and how they approach healthcare wasn’t something I really considered before, so my whole approach to nursing changed during this time.
With an anthropology degree under my belt, I decided that I’d give nursing another chance. I had worked weekends as an emergency nurse while attending UGA but after graduating I went back to work full time in the emergency department. Unfortunately, it only took a couple of years to get burned out again. So, for the next five years, I worked as a nurse educator. I did another two-year stent in the ED but that was all I could manage. Emergency nursing is stressful. So, when a position in clinical informatics came open at the hospital, I interviewed and got the job. After seven years of working in clinical informatics and managing several high-profile projects, I applied for the project manager position that was open in the IT department. Project managing, mostly medical software installations, is what I’ve been doing for the last three years now.
When I’m not working or writing, you can usually find me on the Flint river fishing for shoal bass. Fishing and traveling are my hobbies and I often combine the two. I’ve been to the Peruvian Amazon twice for fishing trips, as well as two trips to Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. Other interests include archaeology, astronomy, genetic engineering, almost anything science-related, and of course history.