Welcome to Writers4Higher
The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Hi, Doug. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
My life has had many adventures, and these are reflected in my writing. As a young child, I had an affinity for the outdoors and Native American culture, and this affinity only grew. Soon after I graduated from high school, I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. The five-month journey was my vision quest that helped me to focus my life. Within a few years, I became involved in the ecology movement, was adopted as a nephew by an Oklahoma Muscogee medicine person, and organized a walk across the United States and another across Europe and the southeastern United States. I started to raise a family in 1986 and began to focus more on the Florida experience, especially from a canoe and kayak.
Being in my mid-fifties now, I feel as though I am in the spring of my life in terms of my writing. I write about kayaking, history, ecology, Native American and southern culture, and even ghost stories and mysteries. I have nine published books—five of which are with established publishers and four I did on my own—and a couple of hundred magazine articles in print. I also write an outdoors and nature blog for Visit Tallahassee and an occasional outdoors column for the Tallahassee Democrat.
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
I just finished the first draft of a new book for Pineapple Press, a guidebook to Seminole Indian historic and cultural sites that I’m calling The Great Florida Seminole Trail. It should be out next year. I’m also working on a rather humorous novel with a paranormal and ecology theme, and I’m working on another nonfiction book that covers a wider geographic area. I started both projects a few years ago and they are coming into clearer focus. People say to write what you know, but I like to write about what I want to know and start diving in.
I do have a good day job and this pays most of my bills, but my dream is to devote more time to writing, outdoor adventures, and speaking engagements. My wife and I live a simple life with no debts, so when our daughter graduates from college, a change may be in order. At the moment, I have to sneak in an hour for writing here or there and a bit more on weekends, so it is a challenge. Plus, there is marketing to focus on. When I am focusing heavily on marketing when a new book comes out, my writing time and focus usually suffers, so it’s a tough balancing act. My writing rewards come in many forms, however. First, the creative process simply makes me feel good. Second, I try to entertain, educate and inspire at the same time, and most of the feedback from readers is positive, so this makes me feel that my writing has a broader purpose. Part of writing is to celebrate life, so let’s do more celebrating!
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
The written word has power, and I witness this when I receive warm feedback from individuals. I wrote a book about my walk across the United States and my experiences with my adopted Native American uncle, Bear Heart (The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth), and some of the feedback surprised me. Even though I didn’t explore the loss of loved ones or life after death, many said that the book helped them recover from losing a loved one. The hopeful, spiritual nature of the book came through to them. That made me feel good about the many years I put into the book. I hope that my writing has helped to raise awareness about our environment as well, and to inspire people to venture outside with a sense of wonder.
Throughout my writing journey, many people have provided invaluable assistance, and I try to give back whenever I can. I enjoy speaking to college writing classes every semester, and even though I’ve never sold a book to any of the students (only the teacher!), I feel that I’ve offered some good advice. I’ve taught writing classes at FSU’s Lifelong Learning Institute and have given workshops at writing conferences. I enjoy reviewing books and articles, especially when they touch upon my areas of expertise, and I’ve served as a judge for a couple of writing contests. There is some great talent out there, and sometimes a bit of encouragement and helpful advice can go a long ways.
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Stop by and say hello and check out this talented author's work.
Thank you, Doug, for your thoughtful answers! You make me want to get outside and have some more adventures!
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