A Letter to 21-year-old me

Four years ago today I walked across the stage in my graduation commencement ceremony. This letter is meant to describe what happens over the four years that follow.

Dear John,

Take in every moment of your graduation day. Every one. It’s something you’ll never forget. The seventh of 8 siblings and the FIRST to graduate from college. I’m still proud of that, though Adrianna quickly became the second. The following events take place over the next four years, which won’t play out how we’d have expected.

2013

You finished school and our plan is to write. And we do. We write an entire book over the coming months. The book may not be comparable to Lee Child or Michael Connelly, but our name is on the cover. Don’t forget the hours we devoted to accomplishing one of our goals.

The book is released in the October following graduation. Again, soak in every moment of this day. It’s unforgettable. You’ll immediately start on book 2, early the following year you’ll abandon it. Nearly 4 years later and that manuscript is no closer to completion. We’ll get back to it. we will.

2014

2014 is rather uneventful until the second half of the year. Then, oh boy does it get juicy. See, during this time we have a friend. She’s someone we met in 2010 just before graduating from high school. Over the course of the four years that followed we realize how utterly fantastic she is. I’m still not sure what it means to love someone, but I know we loved her. And you’ll make the agonizing decision to tell her. It didn’t turn out as we’d have liked. The feeling isn’t mutual. But don’t worry, remember who we’re talking about here. She doesn’t laugh at you. She doesn’t throw it back in your face. She thanks you for thinking so highly of her. Doesn’t mean the feeling you’ll experience doesn’t suck, but it’s something. The worst part of this event is we essentially lose her from our life. Rather than talking regularly about anything, we stop talking altogether. I guess that’s what happens when you confess something like that and it isn’t mutual. Unfortunately, it’s 2017 and we still don’t really talk.

Immediately after that decision you’ll finally apply to your first police departments. You’ll be rejected by both. The beginning of many rejections from departments to come. Keep your head up. We’ll figure it out.

2015

This entire year is rather forgettable. In August you finally quit working at HEB to begin working at Half Price Books. You’ll meet great people and you’ll be paid to be surrounded by books. What could be better, right? Well it turns out it isn’t as great as we’d expect. But that’s not until next year to discuss.

In December you’ll get your fourth tattoo. Still waiting to add to our collection of ink.

2016

The tale of two halves of the same year. In May we’ll go on our first vacation as an adult to Washington, DC! Boy, those four days flew by and before we knew it we’re back at Half Price Books. The trip was nothing short of magical. Cherish the memories from our first vacation. It’ll only grow more distant into the past with each passing day.

In July we quit working at Half Price Books. We refuse to continue working for such a low wage and only 35 hours rather than 40. Our plan: law enforcement. You’ll immediately begin applying to departments all over the state. I don’t have the list in front of me but my memory suggests it’s around 15 departments. You’ll take written tests, you’ll be polygraphed, you’ll participate in multiple review board interviews, and you’ll devote several months to the process. But you’ll fail. Not a single department is willing to give you a chance to become a police officer. Not one. You’ll even cry a bit. It’ll suck. You’ll vow to never go through the process of applying for jobs in criminal justice again. The process is time consuming and we’ve gotten nothing out of it.

Once the law enforcement applications are completed you decide to apply for jobs you feel more qualified for. You’ll submit somewhere in the ballpark of 30-40 applications. Different companies. Different positions. And you. Some will never call. Some will invite you for an interview. Then there’s Travelers. They call. They invite you for testing. They invite you for an interview. But after all of that you have three more weeks to learn of the hiring decision. We’re up to five months without full time employment. Can we afford to wait?

2017

We turn a corner as the calendar turns a new page. We decline two job offers that would have given us more pay and hours. We do so because we’re waiting on Travelers. That opportunity is too important just to pass up before a final decision is made. The second week of January we get the offer. Travelers wants to give us an opportunity. We accept immediately and even cry a bit. It was the longest seven months of our life. But we finally had what we wanted.

Just two months after starting the new job we’ll go on vacation to Boston for eight days. It’ll be absolutely incredible. Now we’re setting ourselves up to visit many new places in the years to come.

Look, the next four years aren’t going to play out like we’d have hoped. They will be rough. You’ll be deflated and nervous. But you’ll always remain confident in yourself. You’ll never back down from what you believe in. You’ll stay true to yourself even in times of great uncertainty.

I’m proud of our growth we’ve experienced over the last four years. And looking forward to what’s to come for us in the future.

Sincerely,

The only person who knows exactly what it’s like to be you,

John Guillen

A Letter to Boston

Dear Boston,

I’m leaving you today. I suppose we both knew this would be the end result. But there are so many things I’ve loved about you. I wanted to let you Know a few of them.

The history. There’s history everywhere. Which means there’s ample opportunity to learn. And that’s my sole aim. To learn as much as I possibly can during my brief time on earth. 

The museums. Boston is a city of museums. This of course is right in line with the history. Museums are about educating, and it seems that Boston is doing a wonderful job of educating.

Education. I’m from Houston. There are a number of universities located within the city. At least one is highly ranked among all universities in the country. But Houston simply doesn’t have the university presence Boston does. Which leads me to believe that the city is a hub for obtaining knowledge. Boston University. Northeastern. MIT. Harvard. I mean, wow. And yes, I realize Harvard is actually in Cambridge but SHH.

The diversity. Again, I’m from Houston. A city regularly touted as the most diverse city in the country. And heck, maybe it is. But everywhere I went in Boston I saw it on display. I heard more languages spoken than I can possibly count. In Houston I regularly hear two. English and Spanish. In eight days in Boston I probably heard 10.

But at the end of our brief time together there was certainly some negative. The roads. The roads here are terrible. And what’s with those weird three way intersections with no stop lights or anything? Are you asking for car accidents to happen?

But this isn’t about being negative. We had a spectacular eight day relationship. Maybe we can still be friends?

Sincerely,

A Wannabe World Traveler

John Guillen

Saturday Selects: My Letter to President Obama

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write that fall outside the general bookish theme of the blog. This is the first of 2017.


Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States next week. So I did what I believe many Americans have done over the last eight years. I wrote a letter to President Obama.

This isn’t meant to start a discussion. This isn’t meant to somehow change your views of President Obama or Donald Trump. This is simply the sharing of my thoughts and life experience with my President of the last eight years. I don’t expect you to agree with me or to even care what I think about anything. This is simply something I wrote and am willing to put out for anyone who may be feeling the same way.

I know some of you don’t care to watch my video, so I’m also including the text of the letter here. This is no different from what’s in the video. This is exactly what I’ve sent to the White House.


Mr. President,

Your time serving in the White House is just about complete. I wanted to take a few minutes to write you a brief letter thanking you for your service to the country you and I both love and call home. I’m 25-years-old. I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Texas. I’ve been heavily interested in politics and current events since I was in high school, never more so than this year. Some would call me a cry-baby liberal who can’t get over losing this year’s election. But you and I both know that there was nothing typical about this year’s election. I have to be honest with you. I’m scared. I’m scared of what a Trump administration can accomplish in four years. I’m scared that those who look like me but weren’t fortunate enough to be born in the United States will be forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known. I’m scared that Donald Trump’s isolationist rhetoric and potential policies will alienate the United States from the rest of the world, most notably from our friends and allies. I’m scared that Donald Trump’s economic policies will only further widen the gap between those of us at or near the bottom and those at the top. I’m scared that Donald Trump will do nothing during his four years in The White House to tackle climate change. And I’m scared of the people who feel emboldened by his win to come out and say whatever they want, to whomever they want, no matter how wrong, disrespectful, or derogatory the remarks might be.

But the point of this letter isn’t to tell you how scared I am of the future. I refuse to live a life in fear. I want to personally thank you for your service. Thank you for helping to ensure equal pay for equal work. Thank you for fighting for marriage equality. Thank you for helping more than 20 million Americans gain access to affordable healthcare. Thank you for putting an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Thank you for moving us toward clean energy because as you always say, this is the one planet we’ve got. Thank you for pushing for Americans to reach Mars. Thank you for pulling our country from the brink of a second Great Depression. My family lost our home in 2010, and my parents have struggled every day since, but we’re still here. We’re still fighting. We’re still putting our work in because in America hard work is rewarded. Thank you for keeping families together instead of dehumanizing illegal immigrants who are productive members of society. Thank you for respecting every American, no matter what they look like or who they love.  And thank you for bringing our troops home.

I could go on and on, as you can see, but I won’t. I want to end it very simply. Thank you for serving me and every other American for the last eight years with respect and dignity, humbly and gracefully. I’ll always be proud to say I voted for your reelection in 2012 to help continue to better the lives of every American.

I look forward to standing with you as a citizen in the continued fight against wrong, un-American policies, and furthering the idea that we are all created equal.

Sincerely,

A university educated, Mexican-American liberal from Texas

John Guillen

2500 WordPress Followers and Surprise!

The following will be a short letter to you. And then I have a great surprise for all of you! Seriously.

To you,

Just recently Write me a Book, John! surpassed 2500 WordPress followers. I know so many bloggers talk about not caring about followers or site views and all of that and that’s fine, but I’m very open about the fact that I do. Think about it. There wouldn’t be any reason for me to post just about every single day if it weren’t for you. Maybe you read half my posts or a quarter or a tenth, but it doesn’t matter. You read them. You may disagree with some of what I say and I may have even offended you at some point along the way, but you’ve helped me reach this point.

And I understand that plenty of people (bloggers included) don’t take blogging seriously. I know of bloggers who will post a week straight and then not again for a month, and that’s fine. But it’s just not what I want from this whole experience. What I really want is to keep you constantly entertained and informed as much as I possibly can. I want you to wake up each morning looking for what I post each day. I want you to share my posts on Twitter or Facebook of whichever social media site you prefer. I want you to have to think before posting a comment on one of my posts. I want this little spec of the internet to become a little part of your day-to-day routine. And maybe all of that is me wanting too much, but you’ll never be able to tell me that I don’t take you, your opinion, and your blog seriously…because I do.

All I’d like to say is thank you. For reading my rants. For disagreeing with me. And mostly just for reading. It means the world to me that you spend your valuable time on this little blog of mine.

Your fellow blogger,

John


Now for the surprise.

I want to ask you something. And in return I want to GIVE you something even better! I realize that a great many of the 2500 followers on here don’t hardly interact with me, if at all. But many of you do. And many of you have been around here for many months and several have been here since early 2014. And for every one of you I’m talking about there’s a reason you’ve stuck around. Maybe it’s my direct nature of writing my posts. Maybe you think I’m sometimes funny. Maybe you just like books and put up with me. I don’t know, but there IS some reason you read my blog.

And I want you to tell me! I want you to tell me why you like my blog as much (or little) as you do. And I’d like for you to really think about it before posting your response because the person who I determine writes the best response will get to name a character in my WIP! You can name he/she after yourself or after your dog or after whatever you want (within reason) OR if that isn’t enticing to you, then I’ll buy you two paperback books of your choice (and throw in a signed copy of mine).

What do you think?! All I want to know is what you think I’m doing right. That’s it. I really hope you’ll take a minute to comment.

PS: You’ll get the two books or the opportunity to name one of my characters ONLY if I get at least ten individual responses.


On this day in 2014 I published 200 WordPress Followers!.

 

 

Help Wanted!

ImagePhoto Credit: Sports Monger Outdoors

As writers, which I assume that most of you are, we like to think that our writing is something we’re able to do on our own. We can sit alone at our computers for hours without interacting with another human, and we’re okay with that. I know I am. But think about it, is writing really something that we do on our own? Or do we have help at multiple junctures along the way? For me, I NEED all the help I can get because of how new I am to this whole writing thing, but also because I simply couldn’t have accomplished the task of writing a book without the help of others. Yes, it may be bad or have this many typos or whatever, but no one can doubt that it is a book. So as you read today’s post I’d like you to think about who has helped you along your writing journey. Because I’m going to talk about someone who I believe is my greatest supporter.

Introduction

First, let me introduce you. Her name is Stephany. Yes, it’s spelled that way. Isn’t that so cool? Anyway, I first met Stephany at the start of my final semester of college in January 2013. So we haven’t known each other very long. Let me tell you a few fun facts about her so you get an idea of the person I’m talking about. She loves Oreos. She once told me that if she ever got a tattoo, which I don’t think will ever happen, that it would be Penelope Cruz riding a turtle eating an Oreo. Haha! I thought it was hilarious when she said it and still think so now. She’s starting law school in the fall. She says “Oh my stars.” Which I think is the greatest thing. And I’ve never met someone as funny as her who didn’t have to try at all. Oh, and she’s read my book!

The why

Now if I were reading this post I’d probably be asking myself a few questions. Why is she so important that she gets a post written all about her? Or, so y’all are dating, right? Or, what does this have to do with books?

First off, we are just friends. Believe it or not, a guy and girl can be friends once into their twenties. Second, why is she so important? Well I’ll save that one for the third part of this post in just a bit. Lastly, what does this have to do with books? No, she isn’t a writer. She doesn’t have a cool blog like this. She has nothing to do with books or writing or any of the things I post here, except that I can probably count on one or two fingers how many people I know personally who are 100% behind my writing. And she comes in first.

So yeah, maybe you’ll just go on to read another blog somewhere else on the internet because you’re not going to get any cool book info from the rest of this post, but I would encourage you to stay. Because as a writer you likely have someone or multiple someones in your life who you know are always in your corner. I have Stephany. And she’s really about it. Now onto the third portion, which will tell you why I’m writing this post in the first place.

The letter

This last part will simply be a letter written from me to her. Why? Because it’s her birthday! And sending a stupid text message just doesn’t cut it for some people. So, here it is.

Stephany,

Honestly, I hesitated to include this part of the post because of how many people could potentially read it. But what the heck, right? Let me start with a story I’ve actually never told you. I never told you because it’s so embarrassing and because I honestly thought we wouldn’t talk much after I graduated. So glad I was wrong about that part.

It was one of the very first days of the semester in Dr. Cavanaugh’s class and we’d been assigned our first reading of the semester. On the day we were to discuss it you asked if I’d actually read what we were supposed to. I said no. But in my head this is what I was thinking, “Why in the world is this girl talking to me?! She’s like…pretty. I’m just awkward and weird.” Hahaha so yeah. Hopefully you laughed a little at that because I’ve always thought it was hilarious.

Now for a little more seriousness. Sorry, but we’re both sarcastic every other day of the year. What do I want to tell you on this rather public forum for many eyes to see? Hmm that’s a tough one. But not really. So I’ll just start rambling a bit. First, I’m sorry I made you BUY my book from me. What the heck was I thinking? And then you had to buy me lunch when I didn’t have my wallet. I think I owe you. Feel free to make a list as you read this. Second, you are undoubtedly my biggest supporter when it comes to my writing. And I know I don’t let you ask about it or anything, but I don’t think I’ve ever once believed since the first time I told you I wanted to write books after graduation that you weren’t sincerely interested. So that’s…well it’s a bigger deal than you could possibly imagine. It’s HUGE. Because you don’t have to be. And you get nothing out of it. Just ask every other person I know. I can’t even talk about it with anyone because they sincerely don’t care. But at least now you know why I was so eager to write a character after you in my second book.

Third, oh, I was kind of disappointed that you didn’t invite me to your graduation in December. I would have loved to go. Even though someone I invited to mine didn’t go. Hmm. Who could that be??? But that’s okay. Oh, AND when you read this you better follow my blog via email. You don’t even have to read the posts, just do it because I was awesome enough to write this for you. Okay? Okay.

Now let me be serious just a little while longer. Remember my signing back in November? You were really great about helping me with that. So thank you. Thank you for actually taking the time to read my book. I’m pretty sure last summer when I was still writing it that I only texted you about my writing. Thank you for putting up with that. Thank you for the constant sarcasm. Because who likes being serious all the time? Thanks for being an amazing person and even better friend. Okay, enough with all this serious stuff. Wait, one more. Thanks for just being my friend. I could make a list of the close friends I’ve had over the last five years or so who completely lost interest in me, some with reason, and others without. I’m not sure of the definition of a true friend, but I’d bet it’s you. So thank you. Okay, now I’m done.

One more thing. I told you a few weeks ago that I’d probably have about 750 followers when I posted this, well I’m actually just under 900 now. Sorry!

It’s your birthday! La La La La La. Just imagine me spinning in circles while jumping on my bed. Singing too. So, you’re getting kind of old now. I mean, 22. Start checking your hair because you might have some grey coming in! What rhymes with 22? Blue’s Clues, did you ever watch that? Or…Barbecue. Everyone loves that. Or…choo-choo! Hahaha

All sarcasm aside and in complete sincerity, happy birthday, Stephany. I hope you have the greatest day.

JohnRaymond <– 🙂

ImagePhoto Credit: Hotel Berna


 

Now I need YOUR help, fellow WordPress blogger. If you read this far, then you better be wishing her a happy birthday in the comments. Because, after all, you likely have someone exactly like her in your corner who you appreciate a whole lot more than they could possibly know. So do it! Please. I can promise you that Stephany would greatly appreciate it.

 

 

 

A Letter to my Character

ImagePhoto Credit: Letters to Humanity

Okay guys, did you happen to catch the letter I posted last Monday that was sent to me from my protagonist? If not, you can quickly view that post here. Anyway, this is the follow up letter that I’m sending him with my responses to some of the concerns he raised in his initial correspondence. Take a look.

Andrew,

Yes, you can call me JohnRaymond if you like, but I’d much prefer that you call me John. Or even Mr. Guillen. After all, I did create you. I don’t see anything wrong with a little respect between the two of us. I’ll call you Andrew or Banks or whatever you like, let me know in any future correspondence.

The first point you raised in your letter is that you don’t see us being the same person like I do. Hm. I’d say that’s understandable. But I’d also refer back to something else you mentioned in your letter. You said that I gave you a moral compass that could only come from me. And you’re absolutely correct in your conclusion. All of my morals and beliefs have been transferred directly over to you. All of them. So yes, we may not be identical twins, but we most definitely ARE the same person. There’s no denying that simple fact.

You also made it a point to mention some of the great things that have been given to you. They’ve all helped you already, but the one in particular that we both know is most important is Sydney. Andrew, I’m convinced that you couldn’t be yourself without her by your side. You wouldn’t be able to do the job that you do. You would be a completely different person. I mean, if not for Sydney you wouldn’t have opened your own office. Ever. You probably wouldn’t have been able to make your way out of the Vega case. Think about what happened that night in the guest bedroom. Why do you think you were able to get out of there alive? Sydney. Period. This is another fact that cannot be questioned. She’s the very reason you do everything you do. But I’ll let you in on a little secret Sydney and I have kept from you. You’re all of those things to her. She’d be just as lost without you as you without her. Don’t forget that.

The final point you raised in your letter related to the types of cases that walk in your door. Yes, they’re not always as simple as you might like, but I send those particular individuals into your office because you’re the person they need. Not police. Not another private detective. You. But how you handle their cases is up to you. I can’t force you to take on a particular case any more than another. And I also can’t control its outcome. Your cases are yours. I just document the events that take place.

There’s one last point I’d like to make. Yes, you always seem to say or do the wrong thing when it comes to you and Sydney. Look, no relationship is perfect. But she loves you, madly. She’d literally sacrifice herself for you. I mean, look at what she did during the Vega case. I still can’t believe it as I sit here and write this. It wasn’t for your clients. Or for her. Or for some greater good. She did it all for you. No relationship is perfect, but she is. So do what she says. Always. And when you do manage to upset her you better make it right. Immediately.

Regards,

John Guillen

Letter From Character to Author

Photo Credit: Impowerable

Okay. My Mondays are typically reserved for posts that I think are most relevant to my readers/followers. They’ve usually been questions about reading or writing that don’t always have the most simple answer. But I’ve happened to read a few posts in which characters write letters to their authors or vice-versa. And I think it’s awesome. So here we are. I’ll have a letter written from me to my character next week. Now let’s see what he has to tell me!

Dear JohnRaymond,

I can call you that, right? Since we’re the same person. I think that makes us family. Boy, do I have some bones to pick with you. Where do I even begin? I’ll start with something I’ve already said. I know you WANT us to be the same. But we aren’t. I’m taller. Bigger. And quite a bit more funny than you are. And let’s not forget that we aren’t even the same Race. I know you want to be a hotshot PI like me, but stick to your life and I’ll stick to mine. Okay? Good.

Wow. I didn’t mean for this to come across as my being so bitter toward you. I’m not. I mean, you created me. You gave me the greatest girl who ever lived and I love her dearly. And you gave me a gun and made sure I knew how to use it. You gave me a strong moral compass that I know can only come from you. You gave me a business of my own that has been successful during its short run so far. And you gave me the ability to help people. It doesn’t get much better than that.

BUT, there’s more. I have some questions that I hope you’ll answer in any returning correspondence because I’d love to hear your answers. First, why is it that you send clients into my office who need the help and assistance of law enforcement? I mean, I’d like to think I’m decent at what I do, but I am just one person. I was lucky to get out of the Vega case alive, and that was my first. You gave me a break with some of the next cases that you didn’t think were good enough to write about and then threw the Giles case at me. Really? A prominent activist known across the country couldn’t afford someone more experienced than me? I realize I’m writing this while still working on that case, but I have no idea how I’ll be able to figure it all out on my own. Lastly, stop me from making Sydney upset all the time. Every other chapter I’ve done the wrong thing or said something stupid. Come on.

JohnRaymond, I know I’ve been critical of you, but the last thing I want to mention in this letter is something of great importance. I want to thank you for the support system you’ve provided me. I’ll always have Fox to turn to for help on my cases, no matter how serious they may be. And Sydney. It’s great that she’s beautiful and smart and independent and won’t put up with any nonsense from me. But that’s not it. There’s nothing she can’t handle. I can talk to her about a case or a decision I’m struggling with and she’ll always know what needs to be said or done. Always. I honestly believe that she’s better at what I do than I am.

Are there some things that I wish you’d do a little differently? Yes. But I have Sydney and Fox and that tells me that I’ll be able to navigate my way through anything that walks in my door. Thank you.

Yours,

Andrew Banks