About Me

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Short Bio

I’m 29. I graduated from the University of Houston Downtown with a degree in criminal justice in May 2013. I published my first book, Divided Within, on October 29, 2013. And when I’m not on here posting something new, writing my next Andrew Banks novel, or reading a book….I’m probably sleeping. I’m kinda boring like that. And I have a newer blog all about sports here.

A few random things about me: I LOVE country music. As in I am singing some country song everyday. I’m really awkward around people I don’t know. I’m horrible at job interviews. I went skydiving twice in one month in 2011. The number one place I want to visit before I’m gone from this lovely world of ours is the Galapagos Islands. I have three tattoos. AND last but not least, Jennifer Lawrence is marrying me.

Ridiculously Long Bio

First off, my name is John Guillen, which you most likely already know. I was born all the way back in……wait a minute, I don’t think you want me to go back that far. Let me start over.

I discovered my love for books and writing and all of that fun stuff during my middle school years. That was about ten years ago now, though I remember several events like they happened yesterday. In elementary school we got to go to the library and check out books, but I think perhaps I was a bit too young to realize my own passion for what we call the written word. I always made my parents buy me books at the book fairs, though! But my middle school had what I thought at the time was an immense library, but now that I think about it it may have been ten or twenty shelves. So it wasn’t exactly the Library of Congress. I can remember the first real book I ever read, at least it’s the one that I’ve had stuck in my mind all these years as being the first. It was Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi. Now I’ll be honest, I can’t give you a detailed plot description or any real description of this book at all because I read it at a time when I myself didn’t even realize what it would ultimately mean for me. I can only say that I’m happy I decided to read this particular book. Who knows, perhaps I wouldn’t have written a book of my own if I hadn’t.

You see, the crazy thing is that it would take me another four years to truly begin to realize the significance of that read. As a seventeen-year-old kid I knew that I only wanted to write and write and write. That’s it. The first person I ever told about this little dream of mine expressed complete confidence in my future ability to do so. This was at a time when I was probably an above average writer as a senior in high school. I remember that conversation perfectly.

I stepped foot on campus at the University of Houston Downtown for the first time in the fall of 2010. I had every intention of majoring in business. Well, during orientation I had one look at the degree plan and knew right away that it wasn’t for me. There were some math and science requirements that I just didn’t want to deal with. After all, I wanted to be a writer, right? Then I looked at the degree plan for a major in history. I liked what I saw but I’m a realist, there aren’t many career paths for a degree in history. So that first semester I took some time to really think about what I wanted to do after my time in college was finished. I realized that nearly my entire personal little library of books fell into the crime fiction genre. Light bulb! I declared my major in criminal justice the following summer.

I’d taken two classes that summer following my first year in college and did the math to see how early I could graduate. I came out to May 2013, though I would have no break during my last two years of school. I thought for about eight seconds and decided that I would walk across that stage in May 2013 no matter what I had to do. After four maxed out semesters, three different mini-mesters, and a summer course load in the middle of it all that shouldn’t have been allowed, I did it. I earned, with honors, a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in three years flat.

But the story doesn’t end there. You see, one might think that I missed out on the whole college experience. And that is certainly true, but that wouldn’t be taking into account the goals I’d set for myself during that time. I can tell you for certain that I had just the one goal. Can you guess it? Become a better writer. That was it. That was all I wanted out of my time in college, well, along with a ring and diploma. I was fortunate enough to take all of my English classes with a professor from an Ivy League school. He asked me that first semester during a one-on-one discussion of one of my papers if I’d considered a profession in writing. I knew then that I’d made the right choice for me and carried his words with me the rest of my time in college.

One question that I’ve been asked more times than I can possibly remember since graduating is how come I didn’t major in English or creative writing or something along those lines. And, I do admit, that this is a valid question. But before I get into my answer I’d first like to share with you an idea that my favorite college professor shared with all of his classes. At least I think he did. The first time I heard it was in my second semester in school, that would be spring 2011. He told the English 1302 class that if we read 50 perfectly written books during our lifetimes that we would be able to write anything we wanted. Keep in mind that the major goal of this class was to turn in an actual research paper. I think it made up half of the overall grade. Now, when he told this to the class I was skeptical. In 2010 I read 31 books, so he was saying that I was nearing the point at which I would be able to write anything I wanted. That sounded a little crazy. Well, suffice it to say that the paper I turned in to him at the end of that semester was by far the best I wrote during my three years in school. The topic I chose was IQ and the death penalty, and if you aren’t aware, the two go a lot more hand-in-hand than you might think.

Anyway, back to the question that asks how come I didn’t major in English or creative writing. It’s because I’ve come to realize that my professor was absolutely right. The idea that one could read perfect language over and over and over again and not be able to produce a well-written anything is crazy to me. Now I’m not saying that my writing was perfect during my last two years of school or that my book is now, but I am saying that I firmly believe in the philosophy that all great writers were first great readers.

And now we’re here. I spent the entire summer after graduation writing my first book. I’d had the idea in my head since the start of 2012. I managed to finish the first draft a little less than three months after starting and spent another month rewriting and receiving feedback. My first book, Divided Within, was released on October 29, 2013!

279 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hello! Your story was very inspiring to me and as an English major I feel I should now just read 50 books and major in something else! Congrats on publishing a book, that is amazing! I hope to one day do the same. Oh..and thanks for following blog. Happy writing! πŸ™‚


  2. Thank you for the like on my blog. I really enjoyed your typewriter post. I learned on a typewriter a long time ago. I can’t image being a writer having to use one. And sadly, I won’t be sending you one for your b-day. But I will continue to follow you here.


  3. John! You are an inspiration to me! Thanks for visiting my blog but most importantly, thank you for sharing your words wit the world! You’very gained a new follower. Cheers to you! πŸ™‚


  4. Great bio John and you are so right, ALL writers start as readers, even if they don’t know at the time that one day they might end up as writers, thank you for following my blog, I look forward to exploring yours, best wishes, Deb


  5. I also love Crispin: Cross of Lead and all that middle age goodness in general. Anyway, wanted to give thanks for checking out my blog. Yours is awesome I will definitely follow.


  6. Great bio and to say I’m impressed would be an understatement. I look forward to checking out your book. Thank you for stopping by the Cow Pasture. I’m glad you liked what you read. I hope to see you again and look forward your feedback and comments.


  7. Thank you so much for reading my blog post today. After reading just your bio I am truly honored. Don’t know if you are still in Houston, my son lives in Montrose, graphic designer for a company that makes electronic games. You two should get together sometime. He’s older, has a girlfriend but he’s pretty cool. I am going to look for your book. I will find shelf space!


  8. Hey John,
    Thanks for the post like! Would you have any interest in giving what I’ve written a read? It’s relatively short (only about 160-ish pages) and I’d love to have a more refined opinion. Shoot me an email (ryanwomeldorf@gmail.com) or a tweet (@kindofawriter). Thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi John. Thanks so much for liking my blog. My friend, Janet, and I are in the beginning stages of our writing/editing business and appreciate any support we get. I’m interested in seeing what your 2015 reading list is. Have you read anything by Wally Lamb? He’s my favorite author right now. Check him out if you haven’t already.


  10. Hi, I was wondering if I could get a direct email to ask you more specific questions about your writing skill? I’ve noticed that one is nowhere to be found on your blog. You can shoot me up with an email to my own blog (I’m quite sure you’ve checked it out) or go about your own means. Either way, I would LOVE to ask you a few questions about your writing that I would prefer not to publicly display.


    • I don’t give out my email to people on here. But I’ll tell you. My writing ability is probably just a bit above average when it comes to crime fiction. I’ve read and read and read so many books in the genre, and I went through a degree program in college that greatly improved my ability. Every class had major essays, and several professors encouraged me to pursue writing post-graduation. I have, though I’m not working on a major project at the moment. But when I start again I’ll look to improve in just about every facet of my writing. Because one can always improve. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I think something I write is truly great, no matter what any other person says about it. I think it’s important that writers acknowledge that they’re constantly learning. Even the ones making millions.


      • Good luck with your writing then. I’ll have to check out the reviews on your book. Don’t forgot to enjoy writing and be confident about it. People can be real jerks and as long as you’re happy that’s all that matters.


      • Oh my book is pretty bad. I was so excited once I graduated to just get it out there because I’d wanted to write it for so long, but I made a lot of mistakes. Like not using an editor. Or rewriting when I found holes. I just got tunnel vision once I finished the first draft. Which I’ll never do again. See, so much learned from my first book writing experience. But I didn’t have an audience or anyone helping me along the way, so I learned from what I know I did wrong. That book shouldn’t see the light of day because it’s not much more than a first draft. But eh, that’s okay. I’ve got plenty of time to write. As do you.


      • Good to meet you John! I haven’t checked out your book yet but I promise I’ll definitely give it a shot! If you haven’t read my profile yet on my blog, I’m a 7 year law enforcement veteran. I can’t say I’ve seen it all, but if you ever want advice or have questions when it comes to police jargon or experiences that may help you in upcoming book ideas, you can email me at justin_kempo7@hotmail.com whenever you like. And good luck!


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