I began writing in high school. During my freshman year, I was introduced to the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and within a couple of months, I conceived an idea for a story of my own. I learned how to type on summer vacation, and produced my first short story, “Tsunami.” In hindsight, it was hopelessly derivative of Lovecraft’s “Call of Cthulhu,” but it was a start.
I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in History at Illinois Benedictine College, now Benedictine University. Alongside my classwork and part-time job, I wrote fairly extensively, completing some two dozen short stories and several poems as well. Two of my stories, “Abraham” and “Ostracism,” won first prize in annual short story contests sponsored at the college by the American Chemical Society. Two poems, “Sherwood Forest” and “A Walk in the Night,” also saw publication in a campus volume.
Graduate study at Indiana University in Bloomington put my fictional aspirations on hold for a few years, and upon entering the workforce, I found them returning only by degrees. By 1999, however, I renewed my interest in writing as a profession, and in the following years I wrote several short stories and two novellas. Their completion gave me reason to begin preliminary work on a novel.
My biggest opportunity came in 2008, when I found the website Helium (then at www.helium.com). Here was a site open to writers of all skill levels, giving them the chance to write on nearly any subject, publish it online, and earn royalty payments based on the number of times that each article was viewed. Other opportunities from contests to commissions were available on the site, and within a couple of months I had made my first outright sale of a short story. Moreover, one’s work on Helium also served as an online portfolio, and I was able to demonstrate my expertise in historical matters. In 2012, I was invited to serve as the Channel Manager for The World Wars. In 2013, the title was changed to Subject Specialist, but I served in the same capacity until the website closed the following year.
I hold Master’s Degrees in Modern European History and Russian and East European studies. I speak German and Russian, with a little bit of Italian and Czech besides. I’ve traveled to Europe on three occasions. In high school, I won a trip to Germany, staying with a family in Nürnberg. In college, I studied for a semester at the Eberhard-Karls Universität in Tübingen. More recently, I’ve visited Rome on vacation.