Hi Pat, I’m honored to host you on my blog today. Having been a Chicago police officer myself, I was anxious to read your book. I found it drew me in immediately with its action and authenticity. The cop jargon, in particular, is spot on and pulls no punches. Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your journey in writing your first book, Chicago Street Cop.
Thanks, John. I’m a lifelong resident of Chicago and a retired Chicago police officer. My great grandfather came from Ireland in the late 1800’s and became a Chicago cop; my father was also a Chicago cop. My son Ryan is the 4th generation Chicago police officer in my family.
I grew up about two miles from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. From my earliest memories, I always wanted to be a cop like my dad and great grandfather. I remember watching my dad suit up to work the streets, and I’d stare out the front window and watch him drive away in his powder blue 1959 Chevy to police the mean streets of the Windy City.
I admired my father and knew some day, I too, would become a cop. The dream came true when I finally pinned on the star. I truly believed it was my destiny—my calling in life. I enjoyed every day I was a cop-even the bad and sad days I endured. The fact I was paid to live my dream was fantastic. Truth be told, I would have been a cop even if they hadn’t paid me, it meant that much.
In the back of my mind, I always knew someday I’d write about my experiences. Throughout my career, particularly when I worked undercover in the gang unit, people told me I should write a book. I’m glad I took their advice. Chicago Street Cop is about the crazy and often unique incidents I was involved in during my career. My journey involved stints as a uniform patrol officer, gang specialist, undercover in the gang unit for five years, six years on SWAT-three as a sniper, eleven years detailed to the FBI on three separate federal task forces-six years on the Asian Gang and Organized Crime Task Force, two years on the FBI’s I.C.E ( International Criminal Enterprise ) Task Force, and three years on the Violent Gangs and Hispanic Task Force.
Like many first time authors, when I began writing the words flowed easily. Then, they slowly tapered off, and at times I didn’t write for months. Having never before written a book, I found it a bigger challenge than expected. Life and my police training business also got in the way. I was traveling 30 weeks a year across the country presenting my three-day Street Crimes Seminar.
One day I had this crazy idea to travel overseas to concentrate on my writing—no distractions and no excuses. I went to Australia and Thailand twice, then to China, once to Beijing and once to Hong Kong. I went to these countries simply to write—no site seeing, no vacation. I know it probably sounds a bit bazaar, but I totally concentrated on writing my book. I’d write as much as possible on both the flights from Chicago and the return flights home. I’d hunker down in my hotel room and do nothing but write for five days straight.
Finally, when I thought the manuscript was ready, I hired an editor who referred me to content editor, Jill Welsh, to evaluate my book and offer some advice. At first, it was tough to hear, but she told me my manuscript was written like a journal rather than a book. She also said it was much too long.
Additionally, she said I needed to include dialogue. My stories, though interesting, would probably not work well without it. That turned out to be great advice and believe it or not, I read a couple of books to understand the dialogue concept. One of the books was Dialogue for Dummies, and it really did help hone my writing skills. Jill was also helpful in providing advice on what to keep and what to eliminate.
The most exciting experience of the process was when I received my first physical proof. As I leafed through it, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I realized with just a bit more work I would have my first book published and be able to proudly say, “I’m a published author.”
Presently, my book is only available in e-book form, but the hardcover version is in the printing process and will be available soon. Once the hardcover is out, I plan on scheduling signings and events.
I’m working on a second book titled, Chicago Gang Cops. I’ll take what I’ve learned from my first book and make my second one even better.
Thanks, Pat, for sharing your experience about your career and book. I’m certain readers will enjoy your honesty and marvel at your courage as they read Chicago Street Cop. I understand the book is available on Amazon and from your website, streetcrimes.com. Thank you for your service, my friend.