Growing up I wanted one thing out of life. To become a police officer. Throwing on a uniform with a badge and a gun was all I wanted to do. It consumed me. I spent a lot of my Friday nights in high school doing ride-alongs with the Rockville City Police. That does wonders for your dating life in high school by the way.
I worked hard toward my goal, anyone who knew me knew that was what I was about. Right before I graduated college I was hired by the City Of Statesboro Police, sent to the police academy, graduated from there and immediately went to work. I literally pinched myself the first time I was putting my uniform on getting ready for my first shift. I was young, ambitious, and had accomplished what I believed was a life long goal.
My second week I was still in the Field Training Program, where I had to ride with experienced officers for the first four months or so, and my FTO and I were sent to see if we could locate a runaway juvenile from Atlanta, which is about a 3 hour drive from Statesboro. My FTO, Shannon, thought that was weird and called the agency in metro Atlanta to see what the deal was. Turned out that this sixteen year old female had "come out" to her parents the night before, and had ran away with her softball coach and now presumed girlfriend, who was in her early twenties. The agency had reason to believe they were coming to Statesboro to see friends of the softball coach and possibly stay with them. Shannon and I got to work. Well, Shannon did, I was still very much a rookie and pretty much did what she told me to do.
After coordinating with the reporting agency, briefing our Sergeant, knocking on doors and figuring out where this girl might be headed, we set up down the street and waited. One of the neighbors we had talked to eventually tipped us off that they had just arrived but parked around back. We had the girl in our custody in ten minutes, and the softball coach in handcuffs.
The runaway's parents had to drive from Atlanta to pick up their daughter. The softball coach was charged, arrested, and taken to the jail to await extradition back to the Atlanta. Me, being the rookie, was tasked with sitting with the 16 year old waiting on her parents at the police station. It took them over 3 hours. But, when I brought that kids dad to his daughter, the look on his face is something I'll never forget. Or the way he hugged his daughter. Or the way he thanked me and Shannon, over and over. He would cry, thank us, hug his daughter, then cry again, thank us, and hug his daughter again. We found out the kid and her softball coach were heading to Florida, and had stopped in Statesboro to rest.
Later that night, we were talking about the girl and Shannon said, "It's not every day we get to do something good like that." I thought about that for a minute and replied, "You know, if I retire tomorrow I'll be happy. The look on that dad's face, that made it all worth it. I could quit right now and I'd be good with my job as a cop."
And that is the attitude I try to take with me now. Becoming a cop had been my life-long dream and I would have been happy to give it up after getting that girl back to her dad. It felt that good. That was 18 years ago.
I've been successful as a police officer. And I think I've been successful because I still try to apply the same attitude 18 years later.
I know what you are thinking, "What the hell does this have to do with your book?"
About ten years ago I started writing for fun. Two years after that I really started to work on my writing, and found a new dream inside of me. And since that time, just like before, the dream of becoming a writer has crept into me and taken hold much like the dream of becoming a police officer did so many years ago. The biggest difference now is I know how to spend my Friday nights.
A few weeks ago all my friends, and I have some really great ones out there, started receiving my book. Aside from a few compliments, which were very much appreciated, I didn't get very much feedback. I was getting a little apprehensive about that. To be honest, it's a weird feeling. On one hand I'm confident in the story and my writing, on the other hand I don't want people to think less of me if they don't like it. Which, when I think about it more, makes no sense because if they are a friend, the last thing they would do is think less of me, but that is probably the best way I can describe how I felt.
Then I heard from John and Michelle. And, by no means am I trying to insult them but I wouldn't characterize either of them as "readers." John told me that my book was the first one he read since college, 18 years ago. And, I've only known Michelle for the last five years, but we've both spent countless hours at our neighborhood pool together. I always bring one of the two books I'm reading, (one fiction, one non-fiction), and I have yet to see Michelle bring one.
The last thing I'm trying to do is insult them by saying they aren't readers. Both of them are very successful, more so than me in different ways, in my opinion. Both of them are valued friends, you know, the good ones that are hard to find. I was thinking about that when it hit me.
Both of them really liked the book, asked about a follow up, and pushed for me to keep going. When I talked with them, it was pretty evident that they really enjoyed the story. John was sending me links on how to promote it more, wrote a review on Amazon and shared the link pushing the book. Michelle called me and pointed out how much my main character resembled a character on the show, "Scandal" and was making plans with me so we could sit down with a bottle of wine and go over where the next book was going to go.
How cool is it that I have friends that, who normally don't read books every week like I do, took the time to read mine, and promote it? How cool is it that they actually read it, read it so that they are invested in the story and want to read more? How cool is it they want to know about the follow up book that has been sitting in my head since I finished the first one?
It's pretty damn cool.
To all the friends and family that have reached out to me since it's been published, your support has been just as important as John and Michelle's.
It was their comments that made me realize something important though. Their comments brought me back 18 years ago, when I was just a naïve rookie police officer in Statesboro. If the book doesn't continue to sell and I never publish another story again, I've made it. I can quit tomorrow. I published a book that people are enjoying, and wanting more.
And that is pretty cool.