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500 Words

 I was fortunate to have an incredible career with the Dallas Police Department. I worked as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, spent several years on the Dallas SWAT team and was a unit sniper, and advanced accident investigator. But, age creeps up. Retirement was an unknown—what would I do with my free time? It was as if a speeding train had come to a screeching halt.

My solution was to start a new business providing accident reconstructions services. One day, I received a phone call from a California film company regarding a new TV reality series. The first episode included a segment about the 1966 death of a key witness to the Kennedy assassination. Lee Bowers was killed in a car crash south of Dallas, and over the years conspiracy theorists had claimed he was murdered because of what he saw the day Kennedy was shot.

At first, I was hesitant to take on the project. The date of the shoot was less than three weeks away, and I didn’t feel comfortable discussing an unfamiliar case in front of a camera. I agreed to at least take a look at the project details. Among the documents I received included the location of the shoot and a video of a Geraldo Rivera episode that aired in the middle 90s on the same subject. The alleged crash site was a highway bridge, and the film company had already received a permit to close the southbound lanes. The same location was used in the Rivera episode. It only took a few minutes to realize everyone had the wrong bridge. In 1966—the bridge and highway didn’t exist.

After an extensive search of documents at the county courthouse, I found the crash site. I become so intrigued with the case I decided to attempt a reconstruction of the accident. It was a difficult project as every element had to be evaluated by the standards of 1966. As an example, ambulances in the smaller communities were hearses owned by the local funeral home. Medical training was minimal. They loaded and hauled. I wrote a book, Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy detailing my results and conclusions. While I had found an unexpected enjoyment in writing the book, I had no plans to write another.

During the publishing process, I found the Goodreads forum and an individual that ran a contest each month. He’d post a picture, and that was the basis for the story. The maximum word count was 500 words. The picture grabbed my attention, and I thought—why not? Much to my amazement, I won third place for Not Dead, Not Dead. I was hooked. A short story, 500 words jump-started a new career.

I didn’t believe I'd find anything I enjoyed more than being a cop. But I did and have wholeheartedly embraced it. I have spent the last five years researching and learning the craft of writing and publishing. I closed my reconstruction business and started a new one: Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC. I don’t know which I enjoy more, working on my own books or helping another author. I have had the privilege to work with several exceptional individuals. Their books are displayed on my website. I also discovered an unknown talent, graphics design. With five design programs on my computer, it has become an addiction. I can easily spend hours tweaking a cover design or creating a new one.

As an author, I’ve always been intrigued by characters with an extra edge to overcome adversity. Add in my infatuation with Native American myths and legends and Irish and Scottish folklore, and you have the backdrop for my characters. I created the Trackers, a team of FBI agents. Considered the elite of the elite, each has an extra edge, a secret that defies logic and reason. Sentinels of the Night was the debut novel, followed by Going Gone!

In Sentinels, the paranormal element is drawn from Native American culture. In my research, I came across a woman, Alice C. Fletcher, 1838-1923. She was an ethnologist, anthropologist, and social scientist who studied and documented the life of the American Indians. Fletcher was a remarkable woman for her time. She lived with a tribe and translated many of the ceremonial chants and legends. The quote I used at the start of Sentinels of the Night is taken from one of the chants. In Going Gone! I pulled in a paranormal ability from Irish mythology. I am working on the third book and hope to publish it in late fall. Another Tracker will take center stage with an interesting twist on a Scottish myth.

I don’t expect to be the next Nora Roberts or Catherine Coulter. I simply enjoy the process and the individuals I have met along the way. All because of a decision to write 500 words.

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