A little background
Writing was not my first career. I actually started out as an archaeologist and have been doing that in various capacities since 2000. But my life has always been about stories—stories about ancient cultures, about family members long dead, about adventures in the woods, about mysteries, about ghosts, about humor, about ancient scripture heroes, etc., etc., etc.
It has taken me a while to finally get around to seriously putting stories down on paper—my first published story came out in 2016—but I eventually got there. Here’s a VERY short synopsis on the journey (you can find this in “About the Author” in A Knack for Embarrassment too).
“As a child James wanted to be a cowboy, a fireman, an astronaut, an author, an inventor, a computer guy, a marine biologist, a professional basketball player, or an archaeologist when he grew up. When he finally reached adulthood (does growing up ever really stop?) he settled in to probably the least lucrative of the fields—archaeology. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t give the others a try (some a little better try than others).
Between five- and seven-years-old, he used to don chaps and a plastic cowboy hat while riding his stick horse outside Boss the Cow’s pasture, daring himself to cross the fence and do some real cow roping. When he was eight he wrote his first story—a poorly-punctuated, five-pager about an Indian named Run- Away-Bear. Around nine-years-old he and his cousins set their grandma’s old pioneer wagon on fire and tried to save it with a garden hose.
During the 1980s he got really into his friend’s Commodore 64 computer and played a lot of Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? Also during the 1980s, he watched the movie Space Camp and launched and lost a couple dozen Estes rockets all while trying to figure out what a newton was in the world of rocket science.
By the time he was 10, James’s parents had purchased a membership at the local pool facility and he suddenly took an interest in radio controlled submarines and poisonous octopi. In his early teens, with a mile of yarn and a few thousand tacks, James figured out how to open and close his bedroom door, turn the lights on and off, shoot intruders with darts, and wake up his little brother just by pulling a few strings at the head of his bed.
In his mid-teens, James came off an undefeated basketball season, scoring nearly 100 points for his eight-grade team. Then he signed on with a church basketball team and lost every game for the next three years. At that point James decided to give archaeology and writing serious thought.
By the time he was a junior in college, his professors had convinced him that creative writing was so hard as to be nearly impossible and that archaeology was only slightly less difficult. So today James sits at a desk and writes technical papers about ancient peoples’ trash (aka, archaeology). He says it’s not always as bad as it sounds.”
A few other things you probably ought to know about me…since it will come up in my writing…
- I’m a Christian and have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church) my whole life.
- I LOVE ice cream and am always trying to figure out how I can make money eating it.
- I volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America (and I’m an Eagle Scout).
- I’ve owned my own archaeological consulting company since 2009.
- I’m married to Jenna Marie Wulf (since 2005) and have one son, Joseph (born in 2006)—they are my favorite people!
- My wife and I have had 9 foster kids over the last 5 years…and we’re still alive.
- I currently reside in northern Utah but my heart is in Idaho.
Getting all stressed out about stuff (oh wait, that’s a habit, not a hobby), laughing at funny stuff, hunting, hiking, fishing, anything in the outdoors, Scouting, archaeology, history, reading, writing, basketball, watching movies, listening to old time radio shows, Legos, steak, ice cream, driving questionable two-track roads in the mountains, woodworking, beekeeping, building and inventing stuff, traveling, brainstorming ideas for just about anything, organizing “stuff,” and being with my wife and son.
Favorite books and authors
For many years one of my most favorite books was Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, but the last time I read it, it just didn’t call to me like it had before. I need to give it another chance though. Right now I’m not sure I could pick out a single favorite book (although I really like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens) but there are several series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
- Fablehaven pentology by Brandon Mull
- Beyonders trilogy by Brandon Mull
- Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- Tupelo Landing trilogy by Sheila Turnage
- The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen
- Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud
- Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky
- Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkein
- Runelords series by Dave Farland
- Short stories by Patrick F. McManus
These days I mostly read fiction but I’ve also read numerous self-help, time management, and business books. They’ve been useful in my archaeology career, my writing career, and in my personal and family life. Here’s a list of a few that I really liked:
- Drive by Daniel Pink
- What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The Dog Poop Initiative by Kirk Weisler
- The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley
- Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Some of my favorite authors include Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Brandon Mull, Jennifer A. Nielsen, Patrick McManus, Daniel Pink, Anthony Horowitz, Anton Checkhov, Chris Heimerdinger, Lee Nelson, Eudora Welty, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Scott O’Dell, and Susan Cooper.