Saturday, April 21, 2012


I write thrillers.

I write about normal, everyday people forced into unlikely situations to overcome personal tragedies: painful divorces, addiction, mid-life crisis...even serial killers.

I have been known to travel to some pretty dark places to provide conflict for these characters.

Just ask SAMI SAXTON, my flawed, anti-heroine in A PERFECT HUSBAND...and soon to be released A PERFECT SETUP.

Readers ask me, "how do I go there?"

I smile.

I was raised in a small town in Ohio.

I was born into a family of women. Probably one of the reasons I gravitate to writing strong female characters. My father was absent. My mother was a single, twice-divorced woman trying to juggle six children on monthly alimony payments -- whether the checks arrived or not. Life was chaotic, unsafe and over-the-top. I was always one-step away from a foster home. My security and sanity was kept, just barely, by several 'angels' in my young life. An unknown woman (to this day, I still have no idea who she was) paid my yearly YMCA membership. I submerged myself in physical activities which kept me away from home and exhausted.

And... the library. There I was, sneaking my precocious, adolescent self past the elderly librarian through the cranky turnstile into the glorious world of adult fiction. Freedom. At last. Until I got caught. With money I earned from my paper route, I joined the Double-Day-Book-Club.  Remember when you could buy six books for a penny? The excitement I felt, adrenaline- filled anticipation running home after school, looking forward to that little brown packaged box filled with my personal, private literary choices. To this day it still makes me grin. (Still makes it difficult to read from a Kindle!)

... CATCH-22, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS... these were some of the titles I purchased and devoured well before I hit the seventh grade. (Precocious, I did say that!) Those books, among others catapulted me into exotic worlds and make-shift lives where words expressed on paper allowed a portal for my escape. A place to hide where I secretly read, viewed and related to other people's troubles far away from my own.

I was a sensitive boy, inward and not overly confident. I had few friends and even though I was well-liked in school, I was far from popular. My attempts at masculine imitation were futile. I was the one-off, the left-of-center, always trying to find that place to fit in, belong...a home.

I expressed my hidden self, that secretive part of me with words. My voice, full of emotional angst and pubescent longing -- rage -- found a quiet resting place on the page. And, my 10th grade English teacher nurtured that innocent discovery. For whatever reason, she took an interest in my poetry. (I know...poetry?) Her attention to my writing instilled an inner confidence in me, a willingness to continue, a way to move past my fears. An avalanche of emotions gushed forth, an outpouring of feelings experienced -- past, present and future. For once, I was able to represent myself without intimidation or embarrassment or shame. Pain became a metaphor, new but interestingly mysterious and useable.

Through some difficult patches in high school this teacher also became a friend. She allowed me to sign hall passes, forging her name when anxiety grew too great to arrive to school on time, or when the pressures of my seemingly overwhelming life bogged me down to a complete, sloggy hault. There was even a time when a group of us shared pizza at her upstairs, quaint apartment. I remember her nestled, guru style before us, leaning against tie-dyed covered furniture wearing a 60's collared shirt and exhibiting hip! The color was turquoise.

My gratitude will always be to my 10th grade English teacher.

Teachers DO make a difference.

On graduation day, before I left for the Navy, this specific teacher gave me a gift, a book called THE PROPHET by Kahlil Gibran. Inside was a note, now framed in my home. She wrote:
'Doug, you have a definite talent for writing. Your style is simple. This is important because wordiness sometimes conceals all the meaning. Truth does not need embellishment. Life should be simple ~ simply beautiful...'

I will always have a deep appreciation for this teacher. She gave my dream wings... my words flight...

Thank all the teachers who have touched their student's lives in ways they may never know.
Thank you...from the bottom of my heart, PATSY GRIMM,  my 10th grade English teacher for always believing in my true, authentic self. But, more importantly my...voice.

My next book, Patsy will be dedicated to you!

Much love,



  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I can only hope your teacher knows what she means to you, and how she influenced you. As teachers we may never know how, when or where our influence touches our students' lives. I am deeply moved by your tribute. Thank you!

  2. Thank you, Jeff. Appreciate your comment.

  3. Yes, thanks for sharing this touching experience. I understand you a lot more now and can relate to the turbulent childhood experience. Bless Patsy Grimm. I've had a few teachers like this in my life, and they are rare gems indeed. We all need people like that in our lives--one's who take the time to share and care. You're very inspiring, Douglas. I wish you an abundance of love, peace and prosperity...MG ♥¸¸.•*¨*♥

  4. For years I searched to find my third grade teacher for similar reasons. I wanted to tell her just what she meant to me all my life. Thanks to the internet a few calls I was able to locate her daughter finding she was just placed in a care facility. I almost yes almost missed that golden chance to tell her that SHE was SPECIAL and made such a positive difference in my life. Doug thank you so much for sharing this and I can relate so well to the wings in fact when I hear the song "your the wind beneath my wings" it is this teacher I relate it to.

  5. Doug, We have more and more in common the more I learn about you. I too had a very rough childhood and by the time I reached high school was ready for it all to end. A student teacher (who later became a full time teacher) saw my writing and began to help me with publishing and such. He saved my life. We stayed in contact for about 15 yrs or more after high school and then he died from the same type of cancer I fight now. Teachers are so much more than anyone gives them credit for. I support and applaud all teachers everywhere.

  6. This is a wonderful tribute and reminder of how the simplest acts and only a few words can change a life. Thanks for sharing.

  7. We have moved into a time period when the media prefers to highlight the worst about education and teachers and when the government of many states "punishes" educators.
    This English teacher would like to thank you for saying something positive.

  8. That was wonderful. Right now so much blame falls on teachers for what is actually bad parenting.
    I teach middle school English and history.
    I'm currently on disability for a broken foot, but will return to my classroom for the last few weeks of school. I miss my students very much and am glad to see them again before they move on. It's also important for them to know that I care, that I did not abandon them - because for many of them I'm one of the only stable things in their life. For all the effort I put into lesson plans and activities, I think the best thing I can do is just be there for them and let them know they matter.
    Hey, look at me patting myself on the back. Lol. Seriously though, thank you for your post. Your story is inspiring.

  9. What a wonderful post, Doug. I had to smile--my 10th grade English teacher was a big influence on me, too, not only encouraging my personal writing but reading the "novel" I was writing regularly, offering criticism honestly and without crushing my spirit. If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't have started writing seriously.

    And as a teacher, I just want to say to you and everyone who has commented about a favorite teacher here that hearing from former students is more valuable than diamonds, especially when they tell you what they've achieved or what your class meant to them. So if you can find your favorite teacher, make an effort to get in touch. You'll both be glad you did.

  10. WOW! Thank you all for your comments. I think I hit a nerve. I appreciate everybody taking the time to write something! It's wonderful!

  11. My English teacher who taught me to love and respect language was Mr Sanders. Can't remember many of the rest except the most hated Mathis teacher of all my school life Mrs Wheeler. Sometimes one person in the right place makes a difference, and reading about moments like these makes me want to carry on with life.

  12. Love this post. I have a story in the same ilk as that. I was never really a big "A" grade star at high school, but it was my English teacher who realised my strengths and pushed me on. And because of that one teacher I hit my first "A" grade after doing a short story project.And now everything I write and publish I do so always thinking of that one English teacher ...

  13. What more important job can there possibly be than teaching children? Most of us can look back, identify those who inspired and those who terrified us. They stay with us all our lives - and Patsy Grimm will be so proud of you!

    (No, I'm not a teacher - but my daughter is!)

  14. Great post. I'm also from a small town in Ohio and my mom raised 5 of us on her own. The teacher that made an impact on me was my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Cook. She really helped me with my writing and my confidence in writing by having me write stories to read to the younger students. She told me that she had no doubt I'd be published one day, and gave me my first writing journal at the end of the school year.

  15. Thank you! It's always so nice to read teacher appreciation posts. I love my job, because I love teenagers. I remember how hard it was being one and trying to figure out who you were at that age. I feel very blessed to be in the job I am. Great post, and great to meet you! :)

  16. Wow! Just looked at all these extra posts...thank you for the great comments. xo