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Closing The Loop: Novelist Pete Ancone

Warren Miller

Pete Ancone loves cars, writing stories, and running track. The death of his father pushed him into journalism to support his family, but years later, he wrote his first novel … about running.

Ancone grew up near Philadelphia. He had a blissful childhood, but it ended abruptly when he was in high school.

“I was into writing, cars, I ran track, and that world burst when my father died very suddenly. I wasn’t happy and carefree any longer. My father, while a good man, didn’t leave us with much, and we had quite a bit of debt.  My mother grew up on a farm and did not have much education, and there were few jobs available to her. So I had to double down, and I began working with newspapers,” he says.

He’d thought about going to a public junior college, when someone from St. Joseph’s College heard about him.

“The administrator, who was a Jesuit priest, reached out to me and said, ‘I heard you’re going to a public college. That’s unacceptable.’ I said, ‘Father, I can’t afford to go to St. Joseph’s.’ He said not to worry about it. Two days later, I had a scholarship letter, as long as I worked on the school publications.”

Pete studied for a few semesters in Mexico and Colombia and earned his degree. He was hired out of college as a stringer by the Dallas Morning-News.

“My assignments were business and Latin American business climate. After doing that for a few years, I realized that I did not want to live under dictatorships for the rest of my life and came back to the United States and ended up as a business journalist,” he says.

And that’s where, as a stringer for a publisher of trade magazines, Ancone entered the world of entrepreneurs.

“My assignment was to travel all over the Midwest and the South. My beat was small business. I fell in love with small-business people, and I thoroughly enjoyed the job,” he says.

What he didn’t like was the amount of travel required by the job.

“I would be out on the road for six-to-eight weeks at a time. This meant that I had no life. Every time I’d start getting involved with a girl, they’d get tired of waiting for me to come back,” he says. “So I ended up getting married fairly late in life.”    

Eventually, he decided to go out on his own, writing business stories as a freelancer and forming an advertising and marketing agency. He ran his own agency for more than 30 years. By the time he was in his 60s, he had some new ideas of what to do with his life.

“I decided to start working on a game plan. I don’t want to do one thing, but there was one thing I did want to do, which was the one thing I never got to do, which was go back to writing fiction. So I formulated a plan to leave Pennsylvania and move to Florida, and create a life where I could keep some of my old enterprise and begin a new enterprise as an author and a novelist,” he says.

Pete’s first novel, “The Running Games,” is about the 1936 Olympics and a plot to assassinate Charles Lindbergh.  He’s working on his second book. And he’s sharing what he’s learned from a lifetime in and around small business.

He says, “One of my little bucket careers today is lecturing people who want to be self-employed. People constantly put obstacles in front of themselves. Whenever they come up with an idea and tell me about it, I say, ‘Well, why not run with it?’ They tell me 20 reasons why it will never work instead of five reasons why it will. Finding solutions to problems is the most valuable thing I’ve learned in life, and it’s something that I hope I can communicate to the people I know and to my children.”

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.