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,
You know, there are thousands of people beginning to have mini-meltdowns because we’re rocketing through the last week before Christmas and they haven’t found ‘that perfect gift’ for their loved one. Giving gifts can be tricky and treacherous.
Usually, the men on my list are the hardest to shop for. My husband has everything, (he’s got me – right?) so, if he doesn’t offer up some suggestion as to what he’d like for Christmas, I’m stumped. Even if he does give me a list of what he wants, I always like to have a ‘surprise’ gift for him. Something he wasn’t expecting – and yet have it be something cool.
For example: Take the year we’d gotten engaged a few months before Christmas. I think that was the year he wanted a 20 oz. Sears Craftsman claw hammer.
I got him the hammer, but that Christmas I also gave him a wedding ring. I wanted him to know I was really serious when I said ‘yes’ when he asked me to marry him. Oh, and believe me – he WAS surprised by the wedding ring.
Throughout the years, I’ve noticed another trend with my holiday shopping. It seems that every year there is one person in my family that I can find the ‘perfect’ gift without even trying. In Walgreens? I see the perfect gadget. In Barnes and Noble? I see the perfect book. In Macy’s? I see the exact *fill in the blank* they wanted.
This year, it was Bucky the dog who might have been the recipient of gifts galore – but I have to be fair to all our ‘children,’ so Bucky only got one item – just like D.J., Wyatt, Tabby and Baillie. But I could have bought Bucky about five different doggie delights. Everywhere I turned there were goodies that would be perfect for Bucky.
Then there is the emergency gift. You know – one thing you buy just in case someone surprises you with a gift and you’re not prepared. Usually, I’ve got several boxes of See’s Candies stashed away just for the ‘emergency gift’ purpose. But I also intentionally buy See’s Candies as real gifts too.
I also have bottles of wine stashed for emergency gift purposes, but as many of you mentioned in response to last week’s blog, one of the best antidotes for holiday stress is alcohol…so the wine is usually gone before it’s needed as an emergency gift.
So how about you? What trials and tribulations do you suffer with your holiday shopping? How do you find the ‘perfect’ gift? Do you have emergency gifts? If so, what are they…I have a tendency to drink the ‘emergency wine,’ and eat the ‘emergency See’s candy.’ I’m looking for something that might actually make it to a gift recipient and stay off my hips.
I truly want your gift ideas, but out of respect to my readers, please don’t promote your book, your friend’s book or any book – it goes without saying that all my writer visitors think one of the best gifts ever is a book. Thanks!
Until next time,