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Novel / Speaking Q & A
I’ve been writing since I was child. I have written several short stories throughout my developmental years. In grade five I was asked to write an end of school play. All my downtime was spent working on it (Looking back the story was an Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd type, it was never used.) In high school, writing was once again reserved for class, except for one night I remember being inspired by exterior sights and sounds and wrote well into the early hours developing a story. After high school, I allowed life to sideline creative writing until January 2011 when I began developing APOK. Since then I have been writing non-stop.
Outside of English class, no one ever mentioned to me that I could make a living as a writer. For whatever reason, I always enjoyed it but I didn’t have the vision to see where it could take me. As a result I never took it seriously, and I put those that were writing comics, TV shows, movies and such on a pedestal that I couldn’t see or imagine how they got to be where they were.
Frustration. I was working a case that was so filled with political influences that I saw its eventual demise. Before the end, I was working countless hours for something that wasn’t going anywhere. After being freed from the hamster wheel, I started writing APOK as a stress release, and to complete something I had put off for far too long. I had no aspirations of publishing it. I was doing it for personal satisfaction. After the accident, there wasn’t much I could do, so I took that time to continue writing it, yet I still wasn’t convinced and fully committed. Several months after the accident, a doctor asked me, “Have you given any thought to what you would do if you can’t return to policing?” It was at that moment I realized what I had to do.
APOK is the nickname / street name for the main character Miguel Mejia. He has APOK tattooed across his left bicep. There are several meanings behind the title both for the character and for me. I can’t tell you more than that without spoiling some of the story.
As a police officer working within the Greater Toronto Area during and after September 11th, 2001, my vivid imagination was running wild as we were bombarded with a new way of life and security threats. It was in this aftermath that my mind kept replaying the same story. I had passing thoughts of writing out the story, but convinced myself otherwise.
My mother was born and raised in Canada, and my biological father was born and raised in Colombia. I essentially named the character after the both of us (Miguel is Michael in Spanish which is also my father’s name – and I used only one of his two last names). This wasn’t designed to be a tribute, I did it to engage the community to help me find and meet him, if he is still alive, and or the family. After all, I wouldn’t want my boys to accidently have relations with one of their half sisters, or cousins or some other relative.
Short answer, I’m impatient. Long answer, after doing my research on the current legends within the craft, I discovered that a great many of them had significant obstacles in finding an agent. It’s a very subjective field, and one that isn’t based on story alone. I had spent a great deal of time perfecting Agent submissions without success and took account of the time required to do so. I believed strongly in my story and knew that it is viable. I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I believed that if enough people saw my work, that they would be captivated by it.
Self-Publishing is, owning your own business. The possibilities are endless. I remind myself of the powerhouse giants who started small as I work towards growing my brand into a household name.
There are many different Self-Publishers and Self-Publishing options. Do your research and determine what your goal is, and what works best for you.
In my case, I choose to work with one of the best in the business. Ultimately the decision is mine but they have experts who guide me through the process to make APOK the very best it can be. I have many goals, and topping that list, I want my customers to be impressed with every aspect.
As a police officer I am extremely skeptical on the best of days, especially when it’s over the internet. I began researching and found many Self-Publishers. Eventually I found a Canadian option that caught my eye. Their internet site was clean and professional. I noticed that my old college text books were printed by them, and lastly the Better Business Bureau of British Columbia rated them as an A-. My continued research found videos and other links displaying how much they were out in the community educating and helping new and old writers. When I called and spoke to the first employee, I was impressed. I had so many questions and they remained patient, answering every single one of them. I didn’t buy right away. I called back numerous times. I entered a book store and ordered one of their books which came in. I inspected the product and found it to be very well put together. The fact that they were located in Canada was the clincher. I knew if they fraudulently took my money that I hunt them down…luckily I never had to resort to that.
Stay focused on your goal, and don’t give up. It’s a process that can take a long time. My current book took me over two years to write, and I’ve been revising and editing it for well over three years. I still have one more year before it hits shelves, keeping the momentum to move forward is fight sometimes but it’s a fight worth winning. After working years on something seemingly non-tangible, when you finally get to hold that book in your hand it is something out of this world.
I wrote APOK Derailed while returning to work after the accident, and dealing with ongoing medical issues. It was a struggle, sometimes more than others. Maximizing time is the only way. I made it a priority to work on the book every day (sometimes I faltered, but it’s all about getting back on the horse and trying to stay there). I had to develop a routine and stick to it. Depending on the day, sometimes I would only have a couple minutes between doctor appointments. Regardless, I had to stay focused and refuse to quit. Typically it would be the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I work on before going to bed.
Make the good things in life a priority. I know the feeling I get when I’m exercising regularly and eating well, and I also know the feeling I get when I don’t. I find that exercising helps me stay focused and gives me much more energy to do what I need to do. For a long time after the accident I couldn’t work out first thing in the morning because of the head injury. If I did, I would be forced to live the day with a headache and staying awake was a struggle. I had to adapt, and find a way to make it work. As a result I worked out at night and almost immediately went to bed afterwards. Recently I have been slowly transitioning to a first-thing-after-waking workout person again. Some days are better than others but it’s a process to build mental and physical endurance. I have to focus on the incremental wins and build momentum. Life’s a journey, and I want to enjoy as much of it as I can.
My imagination and my commitment to make something spectacular. I’m a Self-Published artist / business owner. I don’t have the fanfare or the Hollywood marketing budget behind me, which means I have to be my absolute best to compete. I personally select the people or companies that work with me. Be assured, when you get your copy of one of my works that I spent countless hours personally going over every detail to make it a work of art.
New York Times Bestseller list and beyond. I am committed to work until it gets there. I’m convinced that the APOK Series is a rocket ship ready to take off. Please, for your own safety, just make sure you strap in before cracking open the front cover. Get ready! Get Set! Go!
Outside of school, most of my public speaking has been as a Police Officer. We’re constantly under the watchful eye of the public, and even more so when we testify in court. Courts are open to the public and depending on the case, the courtroom can hold quite an audience. As a Drug Cop, I got involved in providing Drug Awareness talks, to schools, community groups and other police officers. Although in the beginning it was intimidating, I find it far easier than normal public speaking.
A neighbor who knew of my accident and my slow recovery suggested that I attend a once-a-month group meeting. The meeting hosts people who present experiences they’ve had, the effect it had on them and how they overcame it. The premise behind the group is motivational stories. It was from attending this group meeting for a number of months that I was asked to contribute. I was reluctant for a number of reasons, but I managed…sort of.