It’s not a stretch to say that everything good in my life is a result of the Internet.
My first taste of the Internet was in high school when one of the librarians showed me how to access a bulletin board (BBS). I moved from that to playing some games, most of which were stock trading games oddly enough. This was 1995 and some of my friends had computers and a couple of them were on AOL but I didn’t have any real connection to it until the next year when I went to the local community college. This is where I got my first email account. I got myself on AOL too and hung out in the writing and mystery boards but didn’t really do much interacting.
Two years later, when I went away to school for the first time, is when I had my first real taste of the World Wide Web. I loved it. I built my own website and hosted it on the server the school gave us. But again, it wasn’t a huge part of my life. Fast forward to roughly 2000ish when I was hanging around at the Mystery Writers Forum. I really wish I could remember what year I joined but I can’t recall.
This was the first place I really started interacting with writers and readers and building my crime fiction knowledge. This is where I found out about the Debut Dagger contest in 2003 which I was shortlisted for and had a place to share my joy. I was even able to meet several of the crew when I flew to London for the awards ceremony.
Let’s jump back a year though to when I was done with college and looking for jobs. I don’t think I looked at a single newspaper classified ad. All of my job searches were online and the job I ended up getting I found through the Michigan Press Association website. I also found the roommate I was living with at the time online.
Okay, so I was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger and was starting to make some friends in the crime fiction community and I had some vacation time coming up at work. This is when I found out, online of course, that Robert B. Parker would be the Guest of Honor at Sleuthfest in Florida. He didn’t attend many events or do many signings, but I was able to meet my major hero because I found out online where he would be. When I gave up my newspaper career and moved to Ann Arbor to try grad school I did all of my research online. I found a place to live, a job, a church to attend, and everything else online.
Then my online luck exploded. Between 2004 – 2008 my life changed dramatically and it was entirely due to the internet. I met writers and lifelong friends, I found authors who opened my view of what crime fiction could be which inspired me to experiment and finally find the right voice for myself. I found websites to take the stories I was writing then other editors who I met online, anthologized a few of those stories and made me some cash. I found agents, editors, and readers all who were interested in my work because of the Internet.
Then I met my wife on Match.com. We married and had kids (who I’ve learned how to parent and clean up after through the internet) and I’m a much better and happier man because of them.
Let’s actually go back and address the period between when we started dating and when we got married because the internet actually played a substantial role in that as well. For the first few months we dated I was kind of an ass. I was terrified of commitment and broke up with her several times. Luckily she was much smarter than me and saw something in me and stuck by me. I had some vacation time coming up and was going to do some traveling so I asked her to come with me.
We started in Toronto but that hotel was nasty and there wasn’t much she wanted to do in the city so I pulled out my laptop and started researching other places we could go. I found a great hotel in Niagra Falls and we headed out that way. That drive. And the drive between Niagra Falls and Michigan were where we had our long chats that finally sucked my head out of my butt. I’m convinced if I wouldn’t have had access to the internet we would have stayed in Toronto and she would have been miserable and it would have been over when we returned to Michigan.
So as I contemplate my future online presence, it’s fun to consider my online past and see how one piece of technology can so thoroughly change a life for the better.