I was born and raised in the small village of Wilson, New York, which is off Lake Ontario and about 30 minutes from Niagara Falls. My parents were both teachers, and my dad taught Art for many years before getting his degree in counseling and heading up the Guidance Department at the high school until his retirement in the mid-90's. I have 2 older sisters, so I excelled at being the annoying younger brother! My father passed away in August 2009. My mom still lives at our home in Wilson.
Being from a small town, with not a whole lot to do most days, it left me with time to hang out with my best friend, who also happened to live next door, to find things to do and to use our imagination when it came to playing. There was no computer, or Playstation back then, so they weren't missed. We didn't know any better. To me, this was what made growing up so special for me, anyway. Many of my ideas when writing, come to me from these memories. I don't think most kids realize what it means to have imaginative play anymore. Too many distractions and high-tech gizmos to keep them occupied. Don't get me wrong- I own a Wii, and enjoy blowing things up as much as the next kid, but I'm 46, so I think I earned it!
After I graduated high school, my goal was to go to Ithaca College and learn how to be a sportscaster. That lasted all of about 3 days, and classes hadn't even started! Homesickness got the best of me, and even with my best friend from high school (we still are!) there as well, I booked it on home and began my college career at Niagara University in the Theatre Department. I had a taste for acting and loved the stage, so it fit me well at the time. Besides, not only did I get a quality education, get to act and perform in many shows, but I met some pretty great friends and we were a family for those 4 years. Again, this experience has helped in my creativity towards writing, many times proving invaluable.
After college, most of my friends left for the bright lights of New York or L.A., hoping to strike it big. I knew that my talents were limited to the small stage, and that I would most likely not be happy living away, so I stayed. I found a few jobs, but decided to go back to Niagara University and get my degree in Elementary Education. I received my Masters in 1990, and was lucky enough to get a job teaching Second Grade in Virginia Beach.
By 1991, I was married and living in the south. I was again lucky enough to have a friend living in Norfolk, which was about 20 minutes away, so homesickness wasn't too bad. I do have a problem with that, coupled with anxiety, and the pair do not mix well! My wife at the time, was also homesick, so we decided that Western New York was where we wanted to be. My parents never understood or sympathized with homesickness, but I was grown up and decided to make a grown up choice. So Buffalo, here we come again!
I floundered around with jobs again, until I was able to get into a small Catholic school in Lewiston, NY. The pay was small compared to the public schools, but the stress was even smaller, so I liked it. We had a tough 'ole nun who was our Principal, but she was great, and let the teachers teach, and didn't stand over our backs all of the time. The benefits of a private institution. But after 5 years, the class sizes grew, and our pay really didn't, and stress was beginning to rear it's ugly head again. My wife was working at a Dialysis center at the time and told me about a job that was going to be starting, and I might be good at it. The pay was good too. So, a career change it was.
I began my career as a Reuse Technician. What I did was, take a dialysis patient's artificial kidney (or dialyzer), rinse it and sterilize it using a special machine, and get it ready for use at their next treatment. All very medical and safe, but you had to know what you were doing and take care doing it. I loved it and was good at it. I began to order the inventory for the facility, take deliveries, and soon was training people in the job I held. Things were moving up. But deliveries took their toll in the form of a herniated disc, and after a stint on Workers Comp, I had to leave my job, and again, was left looking for something that would not strain my neck any further.
Again, teaching came knocking, and I found myself at another Catholic school, this time a little bigger, with a little bigger salary, in Williamsville, NY. Again, I enjoyed the private school, with the light stress, even though teaching middle school was stressful enough most days. During this time, my wife and I were blessed with a baby girl, Cordelia. A name that came right out of King Lear, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and a song from the Canadian band, The Tragically Hip. She was a light at a time when there was starting to be a shortage of it. My Principal at my school suddenly began to turn on me, not sure why, but life there was getting hard. As luck would have it, someone that I used to work with at the dialysis center, who was high up in the company chain, called and offered my a new gig with the company that would allow me to work from home, and travel from time to time, training and overseeing the Reuse program for my part of the state, as well as Pennsylvania, and New York City. I was not sure at first, but my Principal made the decision easy, so again, I was off.
The traveling was hard at first. Being a new father, being away was not something I enjoyed. I missed my family. But the experience was fun, and getting to stay in hotels, and have a company card, was cool as well. I DID NOT like the flying part (ever since 9/11, flying just scares the hell out of me!), and I drove most times, even if it was a 7 hour drive to NYC or Philadelphia. I had my iPod in my car stereo, so it wasn't so bad. People I worked with said I was nuts, but sometimes I am, so...
Like most jobs, this went well for awhile, but the company I worked for put more on me as other trainers either left or were let go. Saving money. The stress began to mount again, and with life at home beginning to unravel, things were looking dark again. After close to 17 years of marriage, my wife and I decided to call it quits, believing that we were better friends than spouses. My daughter remained with me for stability sake, and now life was about to begin as a single parent.Taking a short time to recover, I decided to try an online dating service. After a couple swings at bat, I met my current wife, Dannielle, and hit the proverbial ball out of the proverbial park. I knew immediately that I had found that person who would be my everything: lover, wife, mother, and of course, best-friend. We got married after 6 months, in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. She brought 2 boys from her previous marriage, Keifer and Brody. So now, our family was 5. The house I lived in worked for a little while, but we soon knew we had to move to bigger digs. Around that time, my company "downsized" me, so I was left without a job. Luckily for me, Dannielle has a great job that pays well, and along with unemployment, I was "forced" to consider my options. It was helpful for Dannielle to have me home to keep the kids out of her hair, since she works from a home office. So it was at that time, my writing career was born, and a couple "Zombie Ed" books later, here I am. I hope that you all still find me here, writing, for many years to come.
I am also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).