Mossman studied at Coe College for two years, finished college at the University of Iowa and received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1969. His novel The Stones of Summer was published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1972 and Popular Library a year later. Following the publication of The Stones of Summer, Dow was mentally exhausted and spent several months in an Iowa sanitorium. The novel soon went out of print. One of the unique elements included in the novel are poems and letters from Vietnam sent by Marine officer Dan Guenther (U.of Iowa, MFA, 1973), who later published the novels China Wind (Ivy, 1990) and Dodge City Blues (Redburn Press, 2007).
In 2002, Mossman was the subject of a documentary film by Mark Moskowitz, Stone Reader, (ISBN 156730334x)which chronicled the director's attempt to resuscitate the acclaimed book and speak to its seemingly vanished author.
The film shows Mossman currently living in the home he grew up in, which is filled with books. According to the film, Mossman writes on the porch, and is currently working on a book based on notes he has taken from watching hundreds of old movies. In addition to that book, he is also working on a book of poetry. Mossman lists the memoirs of Casanova as his favorite literary work. As a child, Dow read the Bible, and the complete novels of Arthur Conan Doyle. He describes his reading as pretty "a-list."
Prior to Stone Reader, Dow had been employed for 19 years as a welder. He subsequently quit to look after his aging mother, who later died, after which he returned to work as a paper bundler for the local newspaper. After the film's release, The Stones of Summer was re-published by Barnes & Noble. He is now semi-retired.