I’m writing this article on February 22nd. It’s a beautiful Southern California day with temperatures expected to hit the low eighties. I can tell you that February 22, 2011, was also a beautiful day. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze in the air.
Now you’re probably wondering if I’m a living almanac. I’m not. On this date last year, it was a Tuesday and my last day of working for the LAPD. My co-workers threw me a fabulous BBQ. My retirement wasn’t official until February 26th, but that BBQ was my last day at Devonshire Station. Oh, I snuck back in and did my last Basic Car meeting on Wednesday, but I was in plain clothes and it was more of a party than a meeting.
If I had to describe my retirement in one word, I’d say: hectic.
One of the main reasons I retired was because my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I spent most of March taking Mom to various doctors for various issues. I’ve been driving over 70 miles three times a week to spend time with her.
I also needed to catch up on my own periodic doctor appointments. Some of those doctor visits were in relation to the back injury I’d suffered in an on-duty traffic collision.
In addition, I began to get phone calls from friends who all wanted to have lunch, since I had ‘nothing but time on my hands.’ I didn’t want to burst their bubble about what retirement is all about, so I went.
I’d already made my decision to self-publish my debut novel and was working with a cover designer to get the cover ready. I also took an online class to learn how to make a book trailer (much like a movie trailer) for my book. I also tried to learn how to format my manuscript for e-reading devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) I joined two other writing groups and started reading up on how to promote my book and myself.
June was a huge month for me. I launched my book on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. My second career had begun! But it wasn’t just the book launch that made the month special. I also had been approved for an epidural shot to help ease the pain in my back. I had that procedure done in mid-June.
The month of July was a blur to me. I spent as long hours at my computer self-promoting my book by requesting reviews from book reviewers and book bloggers. I attended the Public Safety Writer’s Association yearly conference in Las Vegas as a speaker. The only problem was, that I’d arrived a few days early and, by the time the conference rolled around I was seriously ill and had to go home. What a way to make a good impression. Thankfully, to my knowledge, no one else got sick.
In August, my book ‘took off’ on the Barnes and Noble website and I was in their Top 100 of all their books being sold. It wasn’t long and I hit the Top 100 at Amazon as well. This was another month of heavy book promotion. You have no idea how many book-related websites there are on the Internet!
However, August was also a sad month too. Over the few months I’d been stopping in three times a week to care for Mom, I’d come to realize that Mom’s condition was way more advanced than either my sister or I realized. We came to the conclusion Mom would have to go into an assisted living facility.
The arrangements were made to get Mom moved and comfortable in her new place. I spent the first two days with her to help her get oriented and continue to visit her three times a week. None-the-less, it was one of the hardest decisions my sister and I had ever made.
In September, I taught an online writing class. It was also time for Mom’s scheduled visits to her doctors and I was still seeing a group of doctors regarding my back. Oh, and have I said that during this whole time I was revising my second book, A Deadly Blessing?
October found me teaching another on-line writing class and taking Saturday’s to go cheer at my granddaughter’s soccer games. I was still revising my next book and began working with new website designers to give my website a facelift.
I was still spending about six hours a day self-promoting my book in November. I guess I should clarify here that when I say self-promoting, I was also reading the tons of articles to keep abreast of the vast changes in the writing scene. I also ‘ran away’ for a few days to a hotel where I could lay out the 300+ pages of my revised book and see how it all was flowing.
I don’t really need to say anything about December. It was the holiday season, filled with more events, obligations and merriment than usual.
The first of this year has been spent revising and editing A Deadly Blessing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it comes out in March. The manuscript is in the hands of beta readers right now.
But what about my former life? My life as a cop. What about that? It doesn’t happen often, (mostly because I dot have time to think about it), But sometimes I ache to be driving the black and white and wearing my uniform and badge. I’ll see LAPD officers on a traffic stop, but now, instead of being their back-up, I’m a typical rubbernecker. Driving to where my mom lives for a visit, I’ll see the LAPD helicopter racing to a call somewhere or orbiting over a ‘hot’ call. I want so badly to know what’s going on and to be ‘in’ on the action.
I wanted to find a way to cope with those feelings. So, when I see police activity that tugs at my memories, I try to think of possible circumstances of the incident that I can turn into a scene in a future book. Admittedly, it doesn’t always cure the melancholy, but it leads to some really interesting pages on my computer.
Until next time,