I would like to take a moment to personally thank each and every one of you for supporting me. If you have already read my books, thank you; if you're still thinking about reading my books, thank you in advance. I hope you enjoyed or will enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
Who Am I?
I may not be your typical author. I may actually be one of the most non-traditional authors you will ever meet! I'm a high school educated, down to earth, southern-born, northern raised, United States Army veteran who earns a living driving a trash truck. Imagine - a trash truck driver who writes books; which is how I became known as "The Blue Collar Author".
I am the proud husband of an amazing, God-fearing woman, Andrea; the proud father of three great kids, Ashley, Wyatt and Alexa; and the son of a strong, (sometimes stubborn) southern woman, Judy, who never expected anything less than my best. My character, humor, emotional and firm personality all come from my past and present interactions with my family and friends whom I cherish and hold dear to my heart. Without them in my life, I would just be a shell of a man.
As a hard-working, blue-collar Christian who loves to create stories, I must confess...I'm not much of reader. Don't get me wrong, I have my favorite authors and I've read plenty of books including fiction, non-fiction, self-help and motivational books. I know a good writer is also a good reader. But allow me to share a little more...My wife, kids and I have a great life. But I work long hours. And I was a carpenter most of my life, so I do a lot of my own work on our property. Right now, it's truly a balancing act for me - work, time with the family and writing; having time to read is very limited. Let's face it, when I finally sit down at the end of the day and open my laptop to write, the true battle begins; you would swear I was bobbing for apples!
Mahlon & Judy
Where It All Began...
I was born in West Virginia and grew up in the little hick town of Roderfield. My mother and father, Lonnie and Judy owned a clothing/8-track/CB radio store in town for over twelve years in the '70s and early '80s. I always had my choice of music to listen to with a variety of genres. This explains my current heavy metal and country music playlist. Music is a strong motivator for my writing.
My father passed away when I was six. Being too young to fully understand at the time, this was probably when I truly started to use my emotions to express myself on paper. Being so young though, no one, including myself, ever actually took my writing seriously. I do remember being at my grandparents' house, sitting at their dinner table trying to write something but not knowing just how to express it. I remember my friend Theresa Rice and her grandfather Herman Long walking in. "Watcha doin Skipper?", Herman asked me. Skip was my family nickname. "Oh...nothing", I remember responding and then I'd throw the paper away.
Not long after, I remember sitting on the floor behind my mom's store counter with a notebook, trying to write a story about a TransAm. Again, being young and not knowing what I was doing, I was trying to make my own version of 'Corvette Summer', the big movie at that time.
There were quite a few changes in my childhood through the '70s and '80s, up until I graduated high school. These changes, life experiences, pleasant and challenging, all continue to contribute to my creativity when writing.
In my early years, after my dad passed, I gained weight making me the "fat kid" in school. But I had a tight group of friends since first grade, so it was fine, we stuck together. However, after the West Virginia coal mines went on strike in 1980, our store and newly opened swimming pool business struggled. My mom had remarried by then and she and my stepdad, Mahlon Chapman, decided it was best to close up shop in 1982 and we moved on to Knoxville, Tennessee.
It was in Knoxville that I really started to get in touch with my writing "style", so to speak. We lived in three different areas around the Knoxville area in a span of two years. The first place was Hickory Star, Union County, Tennessee, right outside of the county of Knoxville. I mention Hickory Star because the school there was a good school. The kids and the teachers there were great; they accepted you for who you were.
Then, for work reasons, we moved into the suburb area of Knoxville. This area was a little different for me. We lived in a great neighborhood with a lot of kids to play with and a lot of bike trails. But the school was a little too "upper class". This was where I learned the difference between who had heart and who was shallow; the real people and the fake, especially when it came to money and possessions. And that was just the children my age!
Coming from a family who once owned a business, one would think I would have been spoiled but that was far from the truth. I always knew it could have been worse growing up. I never took our lifestyle for granted. And now, no longer living the same way, we were grateful for what we did have. So, seeing kids act entitled helped me realize even more the type of person I wanted to be; I wouldn't allow them to influence me; and because of that, I was the "fat kid" but it was no big deal, it just gave me more motivation to write.
A couple years later, we moved to Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, right outside of Fredericksburg. I was enrolled in Northern Lebanon High School, class of '89. I learned a lot there. Real friends, real people. There were still some shallow people as well, but all schools will have those. I learned so much about life at NLHS, or as much as I could as a teenager; from hard schoolwork to football to girlfriends. I also learned, the hard way, if you mouth-off to a farm boy you will get hit - HARD! In all honesty, this was when and where my writing style took shape and some of my best writing was done because of girls and my broken heart.
I graduated high school in June 1989 and enlisted in the United States Army on September 11, 1990; I have a high school diploma with a military background. After a short stint in the reserves, I went active duty stationed in Ft. Stewart Georgia, where I had a great time! It was while living in a trailer in 1993 in Walthourville, Georgia, where I started writing "Doctor's Orders".
Flash Forward to 1995...
I returned home during one of the biggest snowstorms Pennsylvania had seen in some time, and found myself sitting in my parents' basement, snowed in, realizing I'd be divorced soon, with no money and a POS car. I knew I could either feel sorry for myself, slip into a deep depression and hope I didn't slip off the deep end...or I could pick myself up and do something with my life. So, I started writing pretty heavy poetry, which helped me get through some dark places and helped me deal with depression.
Writing has literally saved my life. I still have moments that I struggle, I know it's there and I honestly believe you never really get rid of depression completely, but you can learn how to control it. And that has helped me start books and write some stuff that has blown even my own mind! I have dealt with some demons in the past, hit some dark places, and the alcohol...the blackouts...the party's...none of it ever took away the depression. Writing helped me deal with it, without harming myself, which has led me to a much better place in my life.
I finished writing 'Doctor's Orders', set it in my desk drawer and there it sat until 1999. I was working for a garage door company and broke my hand, giving me eight weeks off work. That was also when eBooks were up and coming, so I dug it out, tweaked it and submitted it to an independent eBook company and landed a deal.
I was so motivated, I started writing my second book and finished it in four months with another book deal with the same company. A couple years later, I went with a vanity publisher for 'Doctor's Orders', which to my surprise, was very professional and they did a lot to help me. A few years after that, I landed a book deal for both of my books with a small traditional publishing company. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction, but shortly after the release of both books, they were bought out by a vanity publisher that was not very professional. It was not a good experience. My next step was to seek a literary agent. Unfortunately, not one agent was interested in someone with no college credits and no writing credits. One agent actually told me that I had made a big mistake by joining the army instead of going to college if I wanted to be a writer. I politely told him that he was welcome for his freedom thanks to soldiers like myself, wished him a good day but ended the conversation with one day he would hear of me again.
Once again, I found myself slowly slipping into depression, losing sight of my dream. So, before I fell into the depths of darkness, I did what every army veteran is capable of doing. I took two shots of whiskey and drove on!
A Crossroads...The Next Steps
This journey brought me to a crossroads. Here I was, years from my first publication and many years after I started writing my first book. What was my next step? Was it time to just give up? I admit, that was my first thought, but I had dreams I still wanted to fulfill. So, I came to the conclusion that it was going to be up to me and me alone to make this happen. Although I had many offers of help from friends through the years, from editing to creating a graphic novel, unfortunately, life got busy and that help fell by the wayside. Don't get the wrong impression though, I am in no way upset with my friends! I understand that life happens, and everyone is busy. I get it and still love them. I will accept any help from my family and friends, but ultimately, it was going to be up to me.
I rewrote "Doctor's Orders" five times, added new chapters and tweaked the storyline to fit today's events. I chose Amazon self-publishing in eBook format and paperback on demand for the sole purpose to attract an authentic publishing house, or more importantly, attract a movie deal. Then I could die happy.
Since then, I have created a new series, "You're It!", which is available on Amazon. This is a four-book series; books one and two are published; books three and four will be released in late 2023/early 2024 and late 2024/early 2025. You will hopefully envision the stories as movies being played out in your mind as that is how I write them. I've poured my heart and soul into my writing, and I'm not done yet! I've had over a thousand people read my first four books and have received great reviews.
Second Book Cover
The Present and What's to Come...
Those of you who have followed me this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking an interest in my writing. I hope to meet each and every one of you one day at an author meet and greet, a book signing or at a movie premier of one of my books. I hope to entertain all of you for years to come. I thank you from the very depths of my heart and soul.
For those of you who are reading my work for the first time, welcome! I hope to entertain you for years to come!
Now, if you all will excuse me, being from the south, I have 2 shots of whiskey waiting on me and the next chapter of my life to write...
Please keep following me because...
Y'all ain't seen nothing yet!