What would you like to know?

Below is my old About Page. I updated it recently but didn't want to get rid of this information. I figured the blog was a perfect place for it. 😊 Here we go.

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Here’s the official version…

what would you like to know about Colin Conway

Colin Conway is the creator of the 509 Crime Stories, a series of novels set in Eastern Washington with revolving lead characters. They are standalone tales and can be read in any order.

He also created the Cozy Up series which pushes the envelope of the cozy genre. Libby Klein, author of the Poppy McAllister series, says Cozy Up to Death is “Not your grandma’s cozy.”

Colin co-authored the Charlie-316 series. The first novel in the series, Charlie-316, is a political/crime thriller that has been described as “riveting and compulsively readable,” “the real deal,” and “the ultimate ride-along.”

He served in the U.S. Army and later was an officer of the Spokane Police Department. He's owned a laundromat, invested in a bar, and ran a karate school. Besides writing crime fiction, he is a commercial real estate broker.

Boom, done.

However, if you’ve stopped by my store, and you (previously) clicked the ‘About’ button, then you probably want more than the short author bio you can find in the back of my books.

So, let’s expound on some things.

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I was raised a Cleveland Browns fan. I blame my father for this life of misery.

Young Colin Conway in a Cleveland Browns jersey on a boat

Oh, I’m sure my dad thought he was giving me the gift of cheering a great team to forever glory. You see, he grew up in mid-western Ohio enjoying the wonder years of the 1950s-1960s Browns. Heck, the greatest running back who ever played the game (Jim Brown) busted through the lines from 1957-1965. Who wouldn’t be a lifelong fan after that? The Browns won so much back then they were like the Chiefs of today. Just ridiculous.

My childhood memories of the Browns are filled with Red-Right 88, The Drive, and The Fumble, but I still loved that team like nobody’s business.

Then the Browns were ripped away from us by a greedy team owner who shall remain unnamed only to return three years later as a husk of their former selves. What’s worse is that the Baltimore Ravens (aka the once great Browns) have won the Super Bowl twice. We Browns fans are still waiting for a trip to the championship game.

I’ve tried to break my love affair with the Browns for many years. Like the detective in any film noir movie who runs across a femme fatale, we Browns fans believe that if we give our team just one more chance, they’ll make good. They never do and we never learn.

Maybe this year.

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While in the Army, I spent a couple years in West Germany.

Colin Conway in the United States Army

Notice that I said ‘West’ Germany. I was there during the Cold War and happened to be there when the Berlin Wall fell. I wasn’t in Berlin, though.

No, I was in a small town outside Frankfurt. That didn’t stop us from seeing lines of Trabants fleeing East Germany along the Autobahn. That was a cool sight.

When the Gulf War happened, half my unit went to the desert while the other half stayed in country to fulfill our joint mission with NATO. Those who were selected to go were picked by the last digit of our social security numbers. Yup. That’s exactly how it happened. One through five step to left; six through zero step to the right. That’s also how you know you’ve made it as a soldier. You’re reduced to a single digit between 0-9.

I stayed in Germany, performed my normal assignment and, to supplement base security, pulled extra-duty guard shifts with an empty M16. I was handed a portable radio and instructed to call the guard shack if I ran into trouble. A duty sergeant would bring out the rounds since we weren’t to be trusted with them. Train your boy to do his best, send him to another country to protect your interests, then hand him an empty weapon. It wasn't exactly a moment to inspire re-enlistment.

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After four years in college (I’m fast forwarding for time and internet space - it’s filling up, haven’t you heard?), I spent five years as a member of the Spokane Police Department.

Colin Conway in police uniform

Three years were in a patrol car. Two years were in a liaison role known as Special Police Problems – the silliest name ever created for a government position. Although it competed with the Office of Professional Standards (OoPS) which was what Internal Affairs was known as at the time.

No joke.

Being a police officer was a great job that quickly soured after I got involved with department politics (aka the union). It’s a long story which requires beer and a vow of secrecy, so it won’t happen here.

While on the department I had the opportunity to meet some great people, help a lot of folks, see some horrible things, participate in some heroic moments, and realize that it just wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

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When I was in 7th grade, I started Kenpo Karate because I wanted to be Chuck Norris.

Young Colin Conway in karate

I’m not sure there was a boy alive in the ‘70s or ‘80s who didn’t want to be like Chuck. It happened the first time my dad took me to see the movie, Good Guys Wear Black. I was nine years old. My dad always took me to Chuck’s movies, even if they were R-rated. He said violence in movies was okay, but not sex. Now, there’s a commentary on American values.

Anyway, I made it to my half-purple belt before I quit in the 9th grade to pursue baseball and girls. I was barely adequate at baseball. I wasn’t much better with girls, but at least they were more fun to fail with.

Kenpo remained in my system, though, and I returned again in my later years of high school and basically started over. I stopped again when I went into the Army.

It was about ten years later when I came back to the art, hellbent to get my black belt. It felt like I had left something behind by quitting as a kid. I didn’t want that feeling of dropping out to haunt me. I made it to my blue belt before stopping yet again when I entered the police academy. I showed up one day with a black eye (Kenpo is a contact sport) and was told by the training staff that if I got hurt while doing something non-academy related, I’d be out of the department. I reluctantly told my karate instructor I had to take a hiatus, but I would be back.

Twelve years passed before I returned, once again determined to see it through. This time, though, I invested with several black belts who wanted to start a school. I figured if I had a financial interest in the joint then I couldn’t quit. I was right. I finally earned my black belt – after thirty years!

However, about a year after reaching my goal, I looked around and my original partners had quit to go about their lives. I realized at that time I was too burned out to run a karate school by myself while also working full-time, investing in real estate on the side, and writing crime fiction (oh, yeah, don’t forget the family stuff).

I turned over the school to another black belt who happily took over.

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I’ve been involved with a variety of aspects related to commercial real estate.

Coffee stand

I’ve been a property manager, a broker, an investor, and a developer. It’s something I believe I will participate in until my final days.

While being a police officer was the best job I ever had, real estate is the best gig. I enjoy it every day. It’s the single thing I can point to that financially turned my life around. I wanted to start investing in commercial real estate, but my finances were in the toilet. It took the desire to buy real estate for me to begin saving and to pay off debt. If you ever want to talk real estate, just let me know. Besides writing, it’s my favorite subject.

If you want to read about some of our deals or my thoughts on personal finance, please check out www.thebumblingmillionaire.com.

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I dreamed of being a writer after reading Lawrence Block’s The Burglar in the Closet.

I discovered the book during my first year in the Army. Block’s writing was crisp, the story was fun, and when I was done, I thought ‘I want to do this—I want to write.’

Over my remaining time in the military, I wrote extremely short stories in a journal. They weren’t anything special as I wasn’t trying to find a voice. My goal was to put words on paper. I needed confidence that I could carry a coherent idea from start to finish.

My creative writing faded while attending college as it was replaced by required pieces for classes with words in their titles like Finance, Economics, and Technical Writing. I wanted to be a writer but went to school for Business Finance. As a side note, my advice now for soon-to-be college students is learn what you want, not what you think will make you rich.

After I graduated, I finally staring writing, albeit short stories. My head was alive with ideas, but I struggled to create anything longer than 2,500 words.

Then I met my friend (and future writing partner), Frank Zafiro. He had written a couple of novels that he was in the process of editing. We frequently talked about the craft and shared ideas. My writing flourished during that time.

Soon I drafted my first novel which I put on a digital shelf. This would become a theme in my writing life for the next fifteen years.

During the same time, Frank wrote new novels and published them. He was gracious enough to invite me to co-author, Some Degree of Murder, a novel set in his River City world. We wrote it in 2004 but let it simmer until 2012 when we finally published it.

Seeing it in paperback felt like a huge success.

I didn’t change my process, though. I wrote and digitally shelved the finished products.

This continued until I was approached by a friend to co-author a rock and roll biography. In May 2018, I published Tales from the Road with Bill Bancroft. The process surrounding that book provided a huge confidence boost. When it was done and published, I felt like a different writer. (Read about the process in this blog post here.)

Since mid-2018, it’s been a whirlwind of writing activity.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

- Colin

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