Showing posts with label Michael Crawley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Crawley. Show all posts

25 June 2022

What Makes an Author a Hero? Paying it Forward

 I love that term, Pay it Forward.  It speaks of giving selflessly, but also of planning for a future.  

Really, we're talking about Hope.  When you pay it forward, you are believing in Hope.  Hope that the world will continue to be a good place in future - or at least, a good enough place for you to invest some time NOW helping others who will be around later.  In our case, helping them to continue the literary tradition.

Recently, I got an almost tearful email from a former student who has been picked up by a traditional publisher.  Her book comes out this month.  I couldn't be more thrilled.

She has been generous in her thanks to me for serving as a mentor and cheering squad, and that got me thinking about the people who influenced me in my publishing travels.

I've had maybe a dozen students do really well as writers, in my 30 years of teaching the craft.  Each email telling me of one's success does something to my heart. This is why we teach!  What joy I am given by a student's success.  

But it also does a very curious thing for me.  It reminds me of my own first successes, and the people who helped me on my way.

It's lonely out there, on that author journey.  You basically have to travel it yourself (writing for hundreds of hours, alone at a keyboard.)  Writing, as we all know, is a solitary exercise.  Unless you co-write a book, no one else will have the same investment in it.

It's a journey, no question.  But along the way, you may come across some seasoned travelers who give you the benefit of their experience.  Generous people who take the time to encourage you, when there is no tangible benefit to themselves.  

I started writing for money in my 20s. As I look back on a thirty-five year writing career it suddenly struck me that few of my mentors or people who encouraged me are still alive.  And thus the circle has completed.  They mentored me.  I mentor others younger than me, who will go on to support the next generation of writers, when I am long past.  

God Bless all those who mentor and encourage writers.  You are important and appreciated long after the fact.

A few of mine:

Marilyn Laycock:  Marilyn was a columnist for her local paper.  She died last year, after serving as an older sister to me for almost forty years.  It was she who encouraged me to 'go pro' and take college writing courses in 1986 and 7.  Marilyn told me where to send my first essay (it got published) and provided all the 'Attagirls' I needed in those early years. She sponsored me for membership in the Mississauga Writer's Guild, and introduced me to well-published fiction authors there who would be instrumental in encouraging my fiction career.

Michael Crawley:  The head of the Mississauga Writer's Guild was Michael Crawley, a professional veteran fiction author of horror, erotica, and other genres, under several pen names.  Michael saw potential in me, took me under his wing, and made it his job to see that I tried writing and publishing in several genres, some of which I don't admit to these days :)  Michael died several years ago, but is still fresh in my mind - he lives on in a way I don't think he ever would have anticipated.  

And finally, one who is still alive:

Linwood Barclay:  Sometimes a simple act of kindness can make all the difference.  After some early humour column publications, I brazenly wrote to Linwood Barclay, who was then editor of the Life section of the Toronto Star (Canada's biggest newspaper,) asking if he would consider publishing one of my pieces.  This was completely unsolicited.  I marvel that I had the guts.  But here's the thing:  Linwood wrote back.  This was before email.  So he actually *wrote* back.  He told me the piece was definitely funny, I had talent, but the Star didn't take freelance.  Why didn't I try my local paper?  So I did.  They took it.  They took more.  I got syndicated.  And that launched a humour career of columns, standup and comedic fiction that has spanned thirty years.

One simple act of kindness that has lasted a career.  He didn't have to do it. Most wouldn't have.  It took a bit of effort on his part.  And I have never forgotten it.

 How about you?  Are there people who made all the difference to you as a newby writer?

Linwood Barclay in Conversation with Melodie Campbell, Burlington Public Library, May 19, 2022

19 July 2014

I Am Not a "sexy porn gerl" and other Twitter Mishaps

Okay, I admit it.  I'm a literary slut.
My mentor, the late novelist Michael Crawley, called me that because I write in several genres (mystery, time travel, fantasy.)  Sometimes all at once in the same book.  This girl gets around.

But these days - like everyone else - my publishers are turning me into a social media whore. (Whoops, did I say that on prime time? <blush>)

"Frolic on Facebook!" they say.  "Tattle on Twitter!" they insist.  "Get out there!"

I'm out there, all right.  I'm so far out there, I may need mouth to mouth and a slug of scotch to crawl my way back.  (Yes, what follows is the absolute truth.)

The Inciting Incident:

It started with the Berlin Brothel.  Lord knows why a brothel in Berlin decided to follow me on Twitter.  I don’t live in Berlin.  I’ve never worked in a brothel.  Don’t think I’ve even typed the word ‘brothel’ before now.  I certainly haven’t said it out loud.

Then some wag from Crime Writers of Canada said: “Maybe they’ve read your first book Rowena Through the Wall.  That’s it!  You have a following in Germany. The girls who work there have to do something in their downtime.”

Let me do a cyberspace blush here.  Okay, my first book is a little hot.  “Hot and hilarious” as one industry reviewer put it.  But it’s not x-rated.  It’s not even R, according to my daughter.  (Husband has yet to read it. We’ve hidden it well.)

Then friend Alison said: “It’s a brothel!  Maybe your latest crime comedy, The Goddaughter’s Revenge, is required reading by the owners.”

But back to Berlin. I didn’t follow them back. Somehow, that didn’t matter. The word was out.

‘Amateurvids’ announced they were following me.  Good, I thought.  I like nature films.  Take it from me, this outfit doesn’t film bunnies in the wild.  Well, maybe a certain type of wild bunny.

I didn’t follow them back.

Then ‘Dick Amateur’ showed up, wanting to connect. Author friend Gloria read a few of his posts and said: “You at least deserve a Pro.”

So I didn’t follow him back.

Next, I got “Swingersconnect” following me.  Swingers?  I get sick on a tire hanging from a tree.

I didn’t follow them back.

‘Thepornfiles’ were next in line.  I didn’t peek.

Then two days ago, an outfit specializing in ‘male penis enhancement’ turned up. Now, I ask you.  Do I look like a male in my profile photo?  Is Melodie a male name?  And not to be pedantic, but isn’t ‘male’ in front of the p-word a bit redundant?  Is there any other kind?

Which brings me to the tweet in my twitter-box today:  “Hey sexy porn gerl!” (Yes, that’s girl with an e.)  Let me state categorically that I am not now and have never been a “sexy porn gerl” (with an ‘e’ or any other vowel.)

You wouldn’t want me to be.  No one would.  For one thing, I can’t see two feet in front of me without glasses.  Things that used to be perky now swing south. And my back hurts if I bend over to pick up a grape. 

So I’m not following them back.

Melodie Campbell is an infant Sleuthsayer and this is her second column.  She writes comedies, including The Goddaughter mob caper series and the notorious Rowena Through the Wall S&S series.  (That was Sword and Sorcery, not S&M.  For the record.)