author_photoA John Hartford song contains the line,”I started out to be a tow-boat man but I never got the hang of a ratchet bar”. That line caused me to think about all the ‘started out to be’s’ in my own life. The first was right out of high school when I started out to be a career member of the military.

It took all of ten years to realize that I wasn’t on a career path but was merely hiding from personal responsibility. I checked all my knowledge of how to maintain tactical nuclear weapons at the gate, bid a fond farewell to the United States Air force and, discharge in hand, headed out to sunny California. It took only ninety days to realize that there was a dearth of tactical nuclear weapons needing maintenance in the Greater Los Angeles area. That, coupled with the fact that they didn’t really want me in the movies, set me off on a journey east to see the other ocean.

There’s no telling how far I might have gotten if my old Buick had not given up the ghost in Houston, Texas. My second major ‘started out to be’ was when I decided that my future was certain to be found in commercial aviation. I jumped through the hoops, took the training, invested my entire GI bill and was soon awarded all the necessary ratings to required to pursue flying as a career. Unfortunately my timing was a bit off. I was ready to embrace the sky just as the US Air Force was releasing thousands of seasoned pilots, each with many hours of heavy jet time. Suddenly the fresh ink on my ratings became insignificant. I spent the next couple of years flying whatever I could talk my way into, charters, delivering oil field equipment, even a short stint repossessing airplanes.

I reluctantly faced the reality that commercial aviation was not to be my shining path to success and then began a series of other jobs, too numerous and too boring to mention here. It was during a period of being ‘between situations’ that I read an ad for day care photographers. The ad said ‘no experience needed’ which just happened to coincide with my qualifications for working in that field. I remember thinking as I drove to the interview, “I’ll just take this old job until I can find something real to do. How hard could it be?”

I started out to be a very short term child photographer and over the next two decades I not only found out how hard it could be but also discovered one of the world’s most personally satisfying ways to earn a living. Now that I have placed the lens cap on the camera for the final time I have turned to something that has been simmering, occasionally bubbly to the surface, for as long as I can remember. Over the years I kept scraps of story ideas, plot twists, endings and middles, characters and all the elements, disconnected as they were, that went into crafting works of fiction.

I started to organize these and the first published result was a book of poetry, “Life Under the Freeway.” The second emerged as “An Eclectic Reader”, a collection of action-adventure short stories interspersed with bits of whimsy, romance, sci-fi and other musings. The book featured here, “The Time of the Preacher”, began as desire to know more about the characters in a song. A Calish/Stutz song, titled “The Red-headed Stranger”, was written in 1953 for Perry Como. Como never recorded it but John D. Loudermilk and Eddie Arnold did. It achieved its greatest fame however when Willie Nelson adapted it to his own unique style and released it on the 1975 album of the same title. I loved the song but the story arc seemed incomplete to me. It didn’t tell me who these people really were or how such a murderous preacher could come to a good end, apparently without having to work toward forgiveness. I began to toy with different scenarios over the years and one day they began to gel.

While my version is far afield from anything the original writers of the song had in mind I owe the initial inspiration to their work. Including the books referenced above I have published a total of nine fictional works and one how-to manual for folks interested in pursuing day care photography as a business. All are available on In addition to the books I have a large body of essays, mostly political in nature, on In my spare time I maintain the five acres of brush and what passes for grass surrounding my house here in a remote corner of Waller County, Texas. I am on facebook and, although I still am reluctant to accept the word “friend” as a verb, I do check in daily. And so, in a nutshell, that’s how a kid from Cleveland ends up sitting in front of a word processor in a log cabin some sixty miles northwest of Houston, Texas. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, just ask.