When I was in the first grade we lived in Midland, Texas. The school I attended was selected along with a few other schools across the nation to participate in an experimental new approach to how reading was taught. Many years later this approach was adopted by many schools, known collectively as teaching by Phonics. It must have worked well because when we moved to Houston the following year I was a full year ahead in reading skills compared to the other students.
Despite the fact that reading was always easy for me, I only read what was required for school. In those days before the invention of video games, I was more interested in playing dodgeball, backyard football, army, and cowboys & indians than in reading. Later, my favorite pastime became practicing the guitar for hours on end, devouring every lesson book I could lay my hands on regarding music theory and the guitar in general, an activity that lasted for decades.
When I was in high school I usually completed my required classroom reading assignments but practically no recreational reading was involved in my life. When I was in my early twenties I suddenly became interested in Texas history and took every Texas History course available while attending the University of Houston’s Junior College in downtown Houston. Dale Mullins, my music teacher I mention elsewhere, was also a multi-generational Texan who loved the subject. With his influence, I began reading books on Texas, mainly personal accounts of those who lived in the wild world of frontier Texas in the nineteenth century. My extended family and friends now had a new source for Christmas and birthday gifts for me: Texas history books instead of books about the guitar.
As time went on and I became immersed in a successful musical career with Clint, I began to read to pass time during the many hours of traveling onboard planes and buses. I read on a variety of subjects, many of them spiritually based, learning about different philosophies and religions of the world. In time I truly exhausted the subject and eventually turned to reading a wide assortment of fiction. I quickly grew a list of my favorite authors of different genres such as Stephen King, James Ellroy, Michael Crichton, Ken Follet, Jack Higgins, Preston/Child, and many others. After a nearly a decade of touring (averaging hundreds of cities per year), and between writing songs and recording records with Clint, we finally took some time off. For a year we still performed on late-night TV and award shows but the rest of time we were off. During this halt of activity I got married to my wonderful wife, Diane, and we built a home in Austin, Texas.
With a sudden empty schedule I began toying with the idea of writing a manuscript, knowing that I had developed an interest in the idea after reading so many books the previous decade. With an old Mac laptop I began typing words to story ideas I had floating around in my brain. Before long I was hooked, loving to see these ideas come to life on the page. I believed a had a knack for this and soon began purchasing every book I could find on the subject of writing books. After writing a few short stories I began working on a full length manuscript. While Diane was pregnant with our son, Colton, I finished a five hundred page manuscript named “Hand’s Treasure.” I still had no intention of making writing a career; I simply wanted to see if I could complete a novel length manuscript. I followed this manuscript with a second manuscript, then a third, even a few screenplays in between those writings, before finally deciding to let it all go. I believed I had explored the field of writing books for my own sake and was now done with it. Little did I know that five years later I would be drawn back into it in a way I would have never imagined possible. The rest of this story will be found in my personal testimony, but at the time of this writing I have completed several new manuscripts, the first titled “Ezekiel’s Choice” which has been released with Westbow Press, a division of the Thomas Nelson publishing firm.