Books, both reading and writing them, have always been a big thing for me. The first book I ever read was Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton. I was visiting my grandma, and she had a paperback copy on her shelf. I asked if I could have it, and she said I could. I was five. I carried that paperback copy with me everywhere for the next two years, until I had read it from cover to cover. Did I understand what I was reading? Not until the last quarter of the book. Did I learn some new curse words? Absolutely.
When I finished reading it, I started over again. The second time through, I understood it a lot better. I’ve read it a few more times since then, and it’s still one of my all-time favorites.
I don’t remember the first book I ever wrote, but I have a pretty solid guess. I believe it was about a princess–probably based on either my mother or my little sister–who was imprisoned in a castle by a dragon. All the usual tropes occurred that might cross a little boy’s mind, and the princess and her knight lived happily ever after. It was illustrated, but I’m not sure it was legible in the slightest.
The first book I wrote that somebody could actually read was, of course, intended to kick-start a trilogy. I wrote it in the third grade. The Tale of Twin Planets: The Battle of Butuchie. If you’re wondering where I got such amazing title ideas, then so am I.
Anyways, it was a book about two planets (or, rather, a planet and its moon) that had such an impossibly close orbit that they actually shared their atmospheres. I’m pretty sure that such an arrangement only works in fiction. The two planets have amazing technology, of course, and yet somehow had never really been in contact with one another. When one of them (the good planet, since planets are either good or bad) manages to fly a vessel across the gravitational barrier and reach the other planet, the ship that made the journey spirals out of control and crashes into one of the bad planet’s cities, killing some of its citizens.
The crash is just the excuse that the villain (a giant floating head, who rules over the bad planet) needs to launch a full-scale invasion of the good planet (apparently, though they had never visited one another, they had the capability to launch armies at each other at a moment’s notice). The story then follows one of the good planet’s foot soldiers who, through his cleverness and ingenuity, wins the day in the war’s main battle.
In case you’re wondering, I never did write the trilogy’s other installments.
I wrote on and off through the rest of my school years, but didn’t start writing very seriously until college. I’m still writing seriously.
My first published book, Home To Roost, is based on my family’s experiences on a small farm in the Midwest. But it isn’t told from our perspective, but rather from the perspective of one of our chickens. You should check it out! But be warned: it’s a rather dark story. Don’t be surprised when you’re suddenly surprised by how dark it is. Because that seems to be a thing that happens to people when they read it. They reach a certain page, the darkness sets in, and they’re surprised.
I hope to keep writing and publishing. But I also hope to keep having money to take care of my family. I’m trying to make those two goals work together, but only time will tell.
Personal Life Biography and Trivia
I’ve always wanted to be an author. But I also wanted to be a Paleontologist when I was younger–my parents told me to be a dentist instead. When I got older, angrier, angstier, and perhaps a bit too nationalistic, I wanted to be a soldier–my parents told me to be a dentist instead. Then I studied history, calmed down a bit, realized that there was more to life than waving flags and explosions, and decided that I wanted to be a history teacher–my parents told me to be a dentist instead. Now I’m an author, trying to be successful at it, and wondering if I shouldn’t have become a dentist instead.
But seriously. My life, summed up. In bullet points, I think.
- Family: I have a big family. 5 sisters. 7 brothers. 2 parents. Of the 13 kids in the family, 8 are adopted. The kids who were adopted were adopted at all different ages, and each brought something new to our family.
I’m married and have 2 kids. My wife’s name is Becky, and she’s amazing. Our oldest is Ellie, and she’s also amazing. The youngest is Ælfric, and he, too, is amazing. Becky and I were married in 2012.
- Education: I went to a charter school called Eagles Aerie for elementary school. We wore uncomfortable collared shirts as part of our uniform, and sang character-building/patriotic songs every morning. It was kind of an odd school, but I loved it.
Junior high and high school… well, we’ve all been there. We know what it’s like. I’ll spare you the details.
I went to a community college for a year, then took a two year sabbatical, then transferred to Brigham Young University. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and still wonder about what I should have done. But I ended up studying English language linguistics, TESOL, editing, and social science teaching.
- Employment: The first paid jobs I can remember were for my dad. There was a dinosaur card game at the museum gift shop that I really wanted to get. It was $20. My dad gave my odd jobs to do for $2 an hour. Ten hours later, I bought the card game. I still have it.
My first serious job was boxing. Not punching people in the face, but putting stuff in boxes. Some program to help people make millions in real estate. I don’t know–I never read the material. I just took the pamphlets, flyers, handouts, CD, and book, and put them in a box. Those blue boxes stained my fingers pretty good.
For a summer I worked for an electrical company. It was an assembly-line kind of gig, but it was good. Helped me save up some money.
In college, I was a writing tutor, helped manage the school’s athletic facilities, and was a teacher’s assistant for a tech class. All three of them were good, but each for different reasons.
I sometimes do construction-related jobs. Usually, just digging with a shovel. Sometimes I’ll help do the electrical or plumbing in a house, every now and again a bit of framing. Just things to keep some money in the bank.
But mostly, I write, edit, work on design, plotting, contacting book people, etc.
- Places I’ve lived: I was born in Arizona. Good old, sweaty Arizona. My family lived around Phoenix. It was good. Then, just before I turned 16, we moved to the Midwest, around Kansas City. It was also good. When I turned 19, I went to Los Angeles and lived, more or less, on the streets. At 21 I moved to Utah to go to school. In 2016 I graduated and moved back to Kansas City. Where I’ll go next, only time will tell, but I’d love to try Alaska.
- Hobbies and Interests: Well, writing. We’ll just get that one out of the way right now.
Also, dinosaurs. I used to be crazy about them (quite literally). I’m calmed down now, but definitely still find them fascinating.
I love history. I used to specify certain topics or times in history, but I’ve found that it’s all amazing, so long as it’s well told.
Chess. I’m not very good, but I can beat my fair share of people.
Combat Sports. I don’t know what else to call these, but I’m referring to Airsoft, Laser Tag, and Paintball. You know: sports where you shoot at your friends, and they don’t actually get hurt or die. Even Nerf, I suppose.
Walking. My wife and I try and do a lot of this. We love it. Our kids, if they’re asleep in the double stroller, are fine with it. If they’re awake, it’s usually a shorter walk.
Movies. I think most people love movies. I love being critical of movies, which doesn’t necessarily mean hating them. There are plenty that I love, and love being critical of. I’d like to think that, after studying writing and storytelling, I make a half-decent movie critic. Some people think so. Other people are wrong.
Reading. I’m not a very fast reader, but a good book is a treasure to be enjoyed and savored anyways.
Gardening. This is a newer thing for us, but we’ve really enjoyed it so far, even if it sometimes feels like all we’re doing is growing bug food.Favorites: Color: Green
Food: Fresh bread
Cold Cereal: Honey Nut Cheerios (although I occasionally switch to Cinnamon Toast Crunch and eat appalling amounts in a very short time).
Movies: Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Life is Beautiful, Grave of the Fireflies, Forrest Gump, Nacho Libre, Interstellar, Sense and Sensibility (with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant) and Star Wars (in the following order: Rogue One, Return of the Jedi, Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and The Force Awakens)
Books: Jurassic Park, Lord of the Flies, Raptor Red, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter, and The Stormlight Archives
Video Games: Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros Melee, 007 Goldeneye (N64), Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox), Pokemon Red, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Board/Card Games: Risk
- Dreams/Goals: There are many things that I’d like to do, but most of my big dreams or goals are based around my family, and are continuous, such as having a happy and supportive family.
But one thing that I’d like to do someday is write and publish a Star Wars novel.
- Beliefs About the World: We should all just calm down and try to be nice to each other.
Don’t drive too fast.
Don’t drive too slow.
Don’t get too mad about people driving too fast or too slow.
Understand that people who vote differently from you can still be smart people.
Understand that people who believe differently from you can still be good people.
Understand that people who look differently from you can still be honest people.
Be critical, but don’t be a pessimist.
Be positive, but don’t be blind.
- Religion: I’m an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe that there is a god, and that God is the father of our spirits, and that he loves us. I believe that he is perfect, and that he has a perfect plan for us. I believe that we came to earth as part of that plan. I believe that death and sin both separate us from God, but that God has made a way for all humanity to overcome death and sin. That way, I believe, is Jesus Christ.
I believe in Jesus Christ–that he is the Son of God. I believe that he paid the price for sin by offering himself as a perfect sacrifice, and that his sacrifice makes it possible for him to cleanse each person of their sins, if they accept and follow him as their savior and example. I believe that Jesus Christ lived, died, and lived again, and that his resurrection broke the bands of death, and that, because of him, death is not permanent, and that one day we will all rise from death with bodies that are whole and perfect, never to die again.
I believe that God loves all of his children, and has taught and inspired humanity in all places and throughout all ages, as much as they were ready and willing to receive.
I believe that God and Jesus Christ have spoken to people throughout time, and in places other than Palestine alone. I believe that peoples in the Americas knew of and worshiped Jesus Christ, and that their teachings about him can teach us more about his divinity, the importance of faith and repentance, and many other important truths. I believe that those teachings and truths are found in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
I believe that Christ has restored his gospel and his church on the earth in our day. I believe that he has called prophets to guide and council us once more.
And I believe that God loves and cares for each of us, and that he will speak to us. I believe that he not only listens to our prayers, but that he answers them as well. I believe that any person can go to God for direction, and that he will speak to them through their thoughts and feelings, if they will be still and listen.
But I know that not everyone believes these things, and I know that the world will be a better place when we learn to not only tolerate, but to respect one another’s beliefs.