Christmas matters to me. Let me tell you why.
First off, I’ve always believed that the best way to understand a story—especially a heartfelt tale—is to have some real insight into the writer’s background. Although my path to becoming a writer has not been the easiest one, I’m not sure I’d change a single step.
When I was young, my grandfather was an amazing storyteller. Although he never put pen to paper, I was awed by the power of words—to make people laugh or even cry. I knew then that I wanted to be a storyteller, too.
In 1991, I found myself in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm (Sergeant; Military Police, Squad Leader). Although I take great pride in my service, to say that it was a difficult tour of duty would be a gross understatement.
Returning home from ODS—with PTSD—I began working as a prison investigator within the walls of a medium-security penitentiary. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I was really struggling to heal, so I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor discussed police work but little else. I finally raised my hand and said, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole—corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, he explained, “Currently, there’s no written material on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” Smiling wider, he dropped the bomb that would define my life’s purpose. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue onto his desk. That was it; I was hooked. I was a writer.
In time, I came to realize that although God had given me the gift of writing, my grandfather planted a seed that would eventually save my life. Writing is not only my passion; it has been my catharsis. As an author, I am able to create real and relatable characters that (hopefully) help others heal as well.
Today, more than 25 years later, I’ve written 17 books, with 7 of them being national bestsellers. The ideas for most of my books come from real-life. Essentially, I pen “feel good tear-jerkers that celebrate the strength of the human spirit”; my stories tackle relationships and the challenges that we all must overcome, the underlying theme being “none of us is ever alone.”
The Thursday Night Club is no different, and my hope is that this podcast listening experience might make everyone’s Christmases a little bit brighter. The story follows four college best friends, inspired by a fifth, who embark on a “contest” to perform the best good deed in the spirit of Christmas. In the process, their lives change in ways they never could have anticipated. Is it possible to live the Christmas spirit all year long? I think so.
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Photo credit [main] iStock 1187172195
Inset: courtesy of author