Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I am a Des Moines, Iowa Southsider. When I graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, the faculty sang "It Took A Miracle." My mother and uncles were business people. I began waiting tables and washing dishes in Mom's restaurant at age 12. I pumped gas at my uncle's service station in my teens. That experience of interaction with customers was instructive.
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When did you first start writing?
One of my great mistakes was cheating in high school English classes. I really did cheat and I didn't pay attention. After all, I reasoned, who would know? When I began pastoring, I wrote my sermons in manuscript form after making a strict outline. I preached at least two sermons on Sunday, so I hammered out a communication style. My wife did take English classes seriously, so she has helped me as have editors and friends who read letters with blue pens in hand to circle and return corrected grammar, which on a grumpy day can be irritating. But helpful.