Monday, June 23, 2014

One Year Burning Down the Road...

Do anniversaries matter?

Opinions vary. Depends on what you're celebrating, right?

It was a year ago that I turned in my badge for good, and became a full time writer author. Since then, I've done some writing (and some teaching, too). My life has changed in a lot of ways, most of them wonderful. Actually...I can't think one bad change, unless it is not being around some great people that I used to work with (you know who you are!).

Going all in on your dream is something worthy of recognizing in the form of an anniversary, don't you think? I do, and so I think I'll celebrate with something that is completely I.U. (Internet Ubiquitous):  a top ten list.

This list, in no particular order except for #1, takes a look at: 

The Top Ten Great Things 

(About being retired from law enforcement and living the life of a writer)


10. I get to write. Full time.

I could stop the list right there, and call it a win, right? I mean, isn't that every writer's dream?

9.  I get to grow my hair.  Long.

Like this. Only longer.

8.  Short commute. In pajamas.

Yeah, it is a killer commute. From the kitchen to the stairs to the loft office area, it's like twenty, twenty-one steps. Sometimes takes me eight seconds, unless the puppies are inside and giving me the "look how cute I am lying on the floor and wagging my tails so it goes thump, thump on the floor...don't you want to stop and pet me?"

Then it might take me fifteen seconds to make it to work.

7.  Coffee isn't free, but it's delicious and there's lots of it.

And since we renewed our Costco card...well, there's lots and LOTS of it.

San Francisco Bay Organic Rain Forest Blend Whole Bean Coffee     3 lb. Bag 2-pack

6.  No boring meetings.

When I was in a leadership position with the police department, my life was meetings. Some were productive. Some were stressful. Many were...a waste of time. But I'm no longer plagued by such meetings. Now, if I want to waste time, I have a STEAM account. I meet with my vassals and plot nefarious deeds. So, pretty much the same but not boring.

5.  I get to teach.

Back when I was faced with a career decision, it was either teacher or cop. I chose cop for a variety of reasons (one being that I already had the college credits to immediately apply) but teaching was always my other career choice. Luckily, during my law enforcement career, I got to teach at the police academy.

Since retiring, I've taught a course for Whitworth University and will be teaching report writing at SCC for the next two years. 

I've also started a series of three workshops:  Write Your Novel! (October), Revise Your Novel! (January), and Publish Your Novel! (March). They're six week courses that meet once a week for several hours. I've been charging $99, which is a steal, but to be honest...I don't do it for the money, anyway. I do it to be around writers, to share what I've learned, and to hopefully have some positive impact on other people.

If you're interested in these workshops, stay tuned here or on my Facebook page. Next session will be in October.

4.  Collaborations.

Speaking of being around writers...!

It all started with Colin Conway and Some Degree of Murder

That was such a positive experience that when the opportunity to work with Jim Wilsky came along, I jumped at it. We wrote Blood on Blood, which quickly led to Queen of Diamonds and Closing the Circle (the Ania Trilogy).

Thanks to those two guys, I've been eager to work with other authors any chance I get. When Ty Hutchinson invited me to be part of the novel anthology Thrilling Thirteen, I didn't hesitate. This ebook only collection has thirteen selections (ten books, two novellas, one two-story novella) from eleven authors...all for 99 cents.

I've learned a lot by being part of this collaboration, especially about marketing opportunities.

I've also just finished two more crime fiction collaborations that will be announced very soon. One is with Eric Beetner, another with Bonnie Paulson. Both excellent, talented authors with their own unique style. 

I'm working on another book, a romance, with my long-time critique partner, Jill Maser. This one is something of a slow burn, but it'll get there.

Then there's non-fiction collaboration, as well. I wrote A Street Officer's Guide to Report Writing with Doug Strosahl. We'll be looking at the 2nd Edition of that soon. And there's another "secret" project that I'm working on with Ned Hayes  -- should be out by January.

All I can say is that working with writers is...awesome. Every project feels like such a partnership.

3.  I get to write what I want.

Since I publish most of my work myself, I don't have an agent or publisher dictating my next project. I have a list of about thirty project ideas, and I get to cherry pick based completely upon the muse's whim.

Earlier in the year, it was the collaborations that had me the most excited, so the only solo project I really worked on was At Their Own Game.  Now that a couple of the collaborations are finished and my teaching schedule is in hiatus, I get to select my next solo project.

What's that consist of? Looking down the project list and deciding what gets me pumped up the most. Then getting to work on it.

There are a lot of candidates. More Sam the Hockey Player. River City #5. Kopriva #3. Or a few options that are completely different. As I write this, I really don't know what I'll pick, though it'll likely happen later this week.

2.  No boss (well, except the Boss)

Yeah. That's right. No one to tell me what to do, when to do it, how to dress, or what time work starts. In fact, to celebrate that fact, I'm going to spend an hour playing Crusader Kings II as soon as I finish posting this.

The only Boss I have now is one who asks, "Is there anyone A-LIIIIVE out there? Ah, one, two, three, four....!"

1.  I get to write. Full time.

Did I mention this already?

Well, it bears repeating. I'm extraordinarily lucky in a lot of ways (supportive wife, family, friends, health) and being able to live out this dream is definitely one of them. Yeah, I paid some dues. Sometimes I feel like I lived forty years worth of stress in a twenty year career (especially the last five), but no matter how you stack it, I'm lucky to be where I am. 

What's it like?

I get up in the morning, get coffee, and read the news. To me, news is checking email, checking Facebook, checking hockey news (Let's go, Flyers!), checking Springsteen news, and every once in a while, checking out some local news and entertainment news.

Then I turn to whatever project I'm working on. I tackle it until I'm ready to be done for the day. How long that is varies widely depending on the project and the day.

And every once in a while, I catch myself smiling...because I'm doing what that little kid dreamed of all those years ago. 

I am a writer.