I love my job. Even on the worst day when I can't seem to put together a coherent sentence, I am grateful for having been given this magnificent opportunity to participate in the literary exchange of ideas. My mother says I was telling people I wanted to be a writer when I was seven. I know that seems incredible, but she's my mom, so we have to believe her. I never missed an opportunity to visit the library, which was blissfully near my home, and the librarians there took a great interest in this nerdy, shy, bespectacled kid who kept reappearing almost every day. They encouraged me to read widely and to read the best of everything, and that is exactly what I did and have continued to do all my life.
I sent off my first submission when I was eleven, to Highlights Magazine. This was a poem of which I was particularly proud concerning the Oklahoma Land Run. They turned me down. Yes, that was my first rejection letter. Over the next twenty years, I collected over 400 more of them. No, I'm not exaggerating. I still have them. Every last one. There was a reason, I realize now, why all those compositions were being rejected. They weren't very good. But they improved over time. I didn't know it, but during the entire torturous process of submission and rejection, I was learning how to write. Now I've written more than published forty books.
My goals for the future are to continue to learn, to grow, to find new ways of doing my work and doing it better. I've learned that I enjoy teaching, which led to the Red Sneaker Writers book series and many speaking and teaching engagements throughout the year. I'm very excited about the future--my personal life with my extraordinary family, and my professional life, creating new stories for you wonderful people who still understand the importance of storytelling and the written word.
William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than forty books, including the blockbuster Ben Kincaid series of novels, the historical novel Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness, currently being adapted into a miniseries, a book of poetry (The White Bird), and a series of books on fiction writing. In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writing Center in 2005, hosting writing workshops and small-group seminars and becoming one of the most in-demand writing instructors in the nation. His monthly eBlast, The Red Sneaker Writers Newsletter, reaches over twenty thousand people. He is the only writer to have received the Southern Writers Guild's Gold Medal Award, the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award (University of Pennsylvania) and the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award (Oklahoma State), which is given "in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large." In addition to his novels, he has written plays, a musical (book and music), humor, nonfiction, children books, biography, poetry, and puzzles. OSU named him "Oklahoma's Renaissance Man," noting that in addition to writing novels, he can "write a sonnet, play a sonata, plant a garden, try a lawsuit, teach a class, cook a gourmet meal, prepare homemade ice cream, beat you at Scrabble, and work the New York Times crossword in under five minutes."