The Day I Lost My Innocence

I was twelve years old, excited, knowing Pak-a-Sak had the new comic books on display.

I’d outgrown Archie, Richie Rich, Donald Duck and Casper years earlier, and very recently and reluctantly, Superman, Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, and Batman. I was older now. Wouldn’t be cool to get caught scanning the comic book racks.

But there was one I couldn’t’ give up. One I still clung to. One I was willing to sneak out and purchase, quickly and quietly, like a thief in the night.

Kid Colt.

I loved Kid Colt like a ten-year-old loves puppies. The Kid was cool. Only needed one gun. Had a horse named Steel, and a back story that’d make you cry. Well, maybe not cry. But, you know. The Kid lived by a creed (a Donovan Creed, you ask?) The Kid was an outlaw, wrongly accused. Went from town to town, always one step ahead of the law. Everywhere he went, he’d right a wrong.

Great stuff.

It’s eight a.m. Saturday morning, my friends asleep. I enter the store, do a quick walk-through, pause briefly to see where my comic is situated on the display rack. Can’t spend too much time at the rack, you know. Check the soft drinks, then the candy. I’d be less nervous buying condoms, tampons, a Playboy, or beer. Because those things a guy can laugh about with his buddies. Not comic books. Comic books are things that make your buddies laugh at you!

I rush to the display, grab my Kid Colt, set it on the counter with a dime and two pennies. No eye contact. Put the book in a bag and I’ll be on my way. But no. Counter guy picks up my book. In a voice dripping with condescension, says, “Wow! Kid Colt! Fastest gun in the west! Fastest horse ever lived! And looky here,” he says, pointing to the cover. “He’s surrounded by a dozen men, guns blazing all around, but Kid Colt shoots them all!”

While he’s saying all this, and more, I’m shrinking, mortified, horrified. He ends it with the dreaded, “Aren’t you a little old for this stuff?” I stand there, saying nothing. He takes my coins, says, “Want a bag?” I nod, take it, and rush out the store.

I was crushed. He’d found my weakness, and made me suffer for it. My cheeks were on fire like Johnny Storm, Fantastic Four. Once home, I climbed on my bed, opened the cover of my beloved Kid Colt. Read a few words, stopped, stood, gathered all my comics, added this one to the pile, and lovingly placed them in the trash can.

I’d lost my innocence. 

February, 2011.

That’s when I published, against the advice of everyone I know, a Western Adventure titled Follow the Stone. People said “Westerns are dead. If you publish a Western, you’ll lose the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.” They said, “If you must write the damn thing, at least use a pen name!”

I wrote the book. Put my real name on it because…well, because I’m proud of it. You say you don’t like Westerns? I hope to change your mind. I’m writing a series of John Locke Westerns, meaning, Westerns with a smirk. In doing so, I’m reclaiming a piece of my youth.

A few years back, my daughter’s friends thought she was too old to like certain types of toys. So my wife and I took her into toy stores and pretended we were picking out toys for younger kids. “I’m sure she’d like this one!” our daughter would say, with bright, happy eyes. Years later, we did the same for our son. When their friends came over, we’d put these “kid toys” in a box. We kept their toy secret all that time, and I wouldn’t tell you now, except that we’re friends, you and me. I think you understand why I wanted my kids to enjoy their youthful indulgences as long as possible.

Which brings me to why I’m telling you all this: I want you to download my Western for only 99 cents, a friendship rate.

You know Donovan Creed, and I’m honored you like him. There’s only one Creed, only one Callie. But the same author who brought Creed and Callie to the dance has lovingly crafted a whole new group of friends you need to meet. This ain’t your grandpa’s Western–it’s totally cool and hip and funny. You’re gonna love Emmett, Gentry, Shrug, and the rest of the gang.

I guarantee it.

Did I mention it’s the #1 Western on Amazon/Kindle? Has been, for six weeks now. But don’t read it because it’s popular. Read it because it’s fun.

Give it a try. Find your childhood smile.

Here’s the link. Click it now, before the world gets you sidetracked: Follow the Stone

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About John Locke

The New York Times Best Selling Author Amazon Kindle Million Club Author John Locke has sold more than 1,000,000 eBooks by word of mouth! As an international best-selling author of ten books, every novel John Locke has written has made the Amazon/Kindle Best Seller’s List. Every seven seconds, twenty-four hours a day, a John Locke novel is downloaded somewhere in the world. Donovan Creed Series: Lethal People Lethal Experiment Saving Rachel Now & Then Wish List A Girl Like You Vegas Moon Emmett Love Westerns: Follow the Stone Don't Poke the Bear! How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!
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27 Responses to The Day I Lost My Innocence

  1. Lauren says:

    It says so much about you that you would shield your kids and allow them to enjoy their innocence as long as possible. I wish more parents (mine included) were like that! And I will definitely follow the link. 😉

  2. Steve says:

    Well said, John – like Lauren I love that you did your best to keep your children…children, for as long as possible. It’s so quick nowadays; my kids are 10 & 13, and are so much more aware and mature than I ever was at that age. I remember baseball cards in the spokes, shooting hoops down the street, barely realizing the girl next door was smiling at me.
    Now? My 13 year old is a card-carrying member of Mensa and is working on writing a novella on universe-jumping, my 10 year old is the star defenseman on his soccer team and starting pitcher on the travel baseball team, and I’m an old guy. Awesome to hear stories of going back to your roots – the story must have been an absolute blast to write. Count me in!

    -Steve Umstead
    http://www.SteveUmstead.com

  3. John – What a well-told story about how important it is to keep our sense of childhood wonder. The world is tough enough without deliberately taking away the things that get children’s imaginations going. I think we’d probably all benefit by reclaiming that part of us.

  4. Ok, I will give it a try!! To support no more lost youth!! My son is 11 and loves his comics and superhero toys. I can already see him buckling under the pressure from his friends and that makes me sad. You’re only young once and should be able to enjoy it!! I don’t want his innocence to be lost :o)

  5. Kendall Swan says:

    Awww – okay. You got me. I’ll buy it.
    I love watching my 15 yr old stepson get into Pokemon all over again to “show” my 4 yr old.
    And I remember when my childhood best friend and I would play with barbies but wouldn’t talk about it in front of people at school. And then one day, she didn’t even want to play with them at all. I was crushed! I wasn’t ready for it to be the end. And our secret was still safe. I honestly didn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to play with them anymore. That was a sad day.

    Good story.
    Kendall Swan

  6. Donovan, great blog post. I think we all have experienced something similar, whether it be with a comic book, a treasured movie or an album.

    Wish you great good luck with your new western book (ask Cormac McCarthy if westerns still have an audience) Just put out an ebook myself this week. Check it out, friend (@robbskidmore).

  7. I just about cried when you threw your comics in the trash can. So sad, yet I see adults and kids alike trying to do the same thing to my daughter.

    Glad you went back to your first love. I’m sure they will be wonderful as they will come from your heart.

  8. Roger says:

    I wonder why westerns don’t sell well. I love them – especially the way you write them! Any chance of getting a sequal to Follow the Stone?

  9. G’day John,
    Thank you for sharing the back story to how and why your latest bestseller, Follow the Stone eventuated. It has been many years, since I read a good western. That is soon about to change, on my way to Amazon now.

    Congratulations, mate.

  10. Gary Ponzo says:

    I’m sold John. Count me in.

  11. Great post, John. So deep, thanks for sharing.

  12. Raymond says:

    Wow! I remember the very day I did this exact same thing. I was 12 and comics just weren’t “cool” anymore. 15 or 20 years before the internet and Ebay – several first editions that could have generated some nice income – or simply the joy of letting my own kids read the collection. I remember giving up “trick or treating” around the same timeframe – I was just too “old” and mature to be dressing up and going door to door. I miss that innocence and appreciate your attempts for your own children to keep them innocent a little longer. In today’s world of Facebook and internet, cable TV and 6 year olds having their own cell phones – it is an increasingly harder task to accomplish. Thanks for a blast from the past with this post!!

  13. Maryruth Barksdale says:

    I am a firm believer in everyone keeping a bit of our youth no matter our current age. So many things in life can bring problems, but thinking back to our carefree days of our youth makes our hearts lighter. Loved reading your thoughts John. You are one in a million!

  14. HL Arledge says:

    Well said, John. I’ve got your book, and I also loved Kid Colt (They were a quarter in my day!), but I guess I never outgrew Batman.

  15. yes – you are one in a million. ;-))

  16. I loved this blog! What a wonderful father you must be. I’m old enough to own an AARP card, yet I still act like a 5 year old exploring the tide pools and sandbars at low tide. The kid inside of us needs to be let out now and then.

    And I raise my hand and “second” what Winslow said: “yes – you are one in a million.”

  17. Meredith Bates says:

    I wish I could go back in time and help you pull those comics out of the trash! You’re one of those people who uses the past to help those in the present. Very kind. You “get it” about a lot of things and remind us of what is really important.

  18. Roger says:

    John, I am so glad you have decided to work on your next western. I believe Emmitt Love will be almost as well known as Donovan Creed once he gets a few books under his belt. I sure hope so.

  19. Kermi says:

    In my 40’s I was struck in the back by a truck, leaving my permanently disabled.
    Why do I tell this? I never felt my age, especially with my teenage nephews & toddler niece. I had always, and still do, believe that age is just a number & I would never allow anyone to dictate my life. I never was one that ‘followed” never stayed up with the fashion or fads, I always marched to my own beat ….. lol. Never had alot of friends since I wouldn’t “follow” them, but I was me & loved it.

    The week prior to the truck …. lol, I had been wrestling with my teenage nephews, boy had they gotten stronger then me ….. lol.
    As well I was enjoying (on a regular basis) the gardens I dug, the pond I installed. Still very active enjoying the things I loved so much. As well I also enjoyed (& still do) my frog collection, roses, etc. I worked on car engines while other females gasped about getting dirty, I just laughed at them. Since I enjoyed being me & being different. Kids love to come to my house since to this very day I still have “toys” all around. Not there’s but mine, wind-up toys, gum ball machines, musical toys, dancing toys, did I mention coloring books & crayons ….. lol. I still have my board games as well.

    We should all remember that kids learn from adults, if they see that we still enjoy childhood things then it shows them that they’re never too old to “play”. In my late 30’s I was still taking my nephews to the carnival, one time we went it was late not alot of people so the man let us “play” in the funhouse as long as we wanted. My nephews just loved that idea and they had me chasing them thru that fun house at least a dozen times ….. lol. One of the best days of my life.

    Stay young at heart, enjoy everything while you can, since you never know what life will hand you tomorrow.

    John, keep up the great work you’re on a fabulous path, if I was you, I’d find those comic books you liked so much and get them, enjoy them. I still enjoy getting new things to add to my collection.

  20. Kensi Baker says:

    I just finished my last Donovan Creed novel I’ve read them all now and just started ‘Follow The Stone’ and know it will be GREAT as all his books are. I’m a. Big fan of anything he has written or ever will! A fan for life, Kensi

  21. Roger says:

    What is the holdup? I have checked and checked for Vegas Moon. Why does Kindle hold it back like that, John?

  22. I’ll still read me some Kid Colt- if anything, it’s my family that’s embarrassed. And I’ll still write me some Westerns, too, even if not many folks are buying (and even if it’s the mystery basket that I put my eggs in.)

    And reading this blog has convinced me to try out Emmett Love AND Donovan Creed.

  23. Lawrence Coooper says:

    Sorry to hear about your “loss.” I’ve been reading comics for over 40 years now and may never lose that innocence (I’m big into Batman). A’though I did like Kid Colt, the Two Gun Kid and the RAwhide Kid were more to my liking (and don’t forget Jonah Hex — the comic book, not the 1-star rated movie).

    I’ll let you know how I like Creed and your Western. I’m just starting them.

  24. Tony says:

    John,
    I read Follow the Stone. As I said in the email, it was a great story. I love westerns. Love to watch them, love to read them. I appreciate the use of characters from your other stories. I have read all your books on my Kindle.

    Tony

  25. Ron says:

    I laughed at the part where you kept your kids’ toys a secret; it reminded me of an incident that occurred while I was I the Army.

    As an aircraft electrician, I was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA the last year of my service. We had a commanding officer (CO) that was a major and a no nonsense kind of guy. He was the epitome of what you think a West Point graduate should be.

    The major had me and another GI (a helicopter pilot) unloading a couple of large mercury vapor lights out of the back of his station wagon for installation in the hangar. When both lights were out, there was a toy robot laying in the middle of the cargo area. The major grabbed the toy, stood it at attention in the corner of the cargo area and said, “Um-hm, One of the kids’ toys”, to which I replied, ” I understand Sir, I can’t wait until my kid gets here so I’ll have some neat toys to play with”.

    The major didn’t respond, but I suspect that he didn’t see the humor in my remark.

    When we got back to the shop the pilot laughed until he cried. I explained that my wife was pregnant with our first child and you know you always buy your children all the toys you wanted as a kid and never received.

  26. Stella says:

    It’s been years since I’ve had so much fun reading an author! Everyone of your books have an entertainment factor times 10. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  27. Marjean says:

    Westerns…I don’t read Westerns…but because I like John Locke’s, Donovan Creed and John said give it a try, I did. And guess what I will read John’s, Westerns because of his characters and fine writing. I enjoyed Follow the Stone and am looking forward to Don’t Poke the Bear (love that title). He hasn’t turned me into a Western fan but definitely a John Locke Western fan and that is good.

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