Growing up on a 1950s farm in Arkansas left a lot of spare time on one's hands. Not only did I get to play in the dirt and swim in canals dug to pump water into rice fields, I literally learned to read before I started school. The rest, as they say, is history.
I read everything I could get my hands on. I even embarrassed my older sisters by publicly proclaiming my project to read the entire entire Encyclopedia Britannica at age ten. I gave that up around the letter Q because it was boring, but I was annoying the high school librarian to no end because I kept checking out books she thought were beyond me. Isaac Asimov remains one of my all-time favorite writers.
I soon decided if I could read, I could write, and started trying my hand at it. In the late 60s, if you wanted to write something you either wrote it out by hand or used a manual typewriter. Talk about effort! My mind raced faster than the words would go onto paper. I wrote a couple of two or three-page short stories, and they were terrible. But still, I was hooked.
In my mind I was no journalist. Journalists were gypsies who drifted with the wind and had no home. I was a man of science and mind, someone who scored super-high on SATs and had the Right Stuff. So I went to college and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Physics at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1976, and discovered computers along the way. I enjoyed programming them in the classroom, and building them in the lab. I went on to earn a Master's Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign two years later, where I also happened to meet my wife, Leann. We're still together after 37 years with 3 kids and 8 grandkids and a lifetime of wonderful memories.
A funny thing happened with building those computers in the mid-70s. I built my first one using pieces and parts following a Popular Mechanics kit design with the idea I would load a word-processing program and write stories on it! I had been using the University mainframe word processors to keep up my ongoing effort to write more easily. But I needed my own word-smithing tools, so building my own computer was the answer. This led to building one computer after the other as technology quickly changed and got better every year.
So here I am decades later. I've retired from a lifetime of writing software for a living and have been expanding my word-processing capabilities ever since those humble beginnings. I tried submitting a couple of short stories to sci-fi magazines in the 80s only to be promptly rejected, but I've kept on writing. I self-published my first public effort a couple of years ago on Kindle, a short story titled 'The Road Home: A Man Left Behind' under the pseudonym Erich George. I'm currently working on a novel-length sequel to that story.
As you can see from the photos, I do like to ride motorcycles! I figured I'd put up a traditional headshot so everyone could see what I look like as a professional, but the real me is the biker. I ride with a group called Rolling Thunder. It's a national organization whose primary mission is POW/MIA awareness and education, and most of us just happen to ride motorcycles. Our chapter is in Oklahoma, you can check us out at www.rollingthunderok.com.
I hope you enjoy my observations on the Back Roads. Let me know what you think.