Oakwood woman used shut-in time wisely

“Two health crises — first one with my husband, and then one of my own — forced me to stay at home far more than I’d ever been used to,” says Molly Campbell, an Oakwood resident. “I soon discovered that the only way to connect with people was through writing and social media.”

That was about 14 years ago. Now both she and her husband have overcome their respective health crises — but all of Molly’s writing has led to a new career as an author. Her first young-adult novel, “Keep the Ends Loose,” will be published by The Story Plant under its imprint Fiction Studio Books. The release date is Feb. 24.

Molly taught English at Miami-Jacobs Career College for 25 years but says that she never seriously envisioned herself as a creative writer.

“I was good at composition, and I loved it, but I somehow just didn’t see myself as a creative writer,” Molly says. “Then when I temporarily became a shut-in as I recovered from skin cancer, I formed an online support group, journaled about my experiences and then turned some of those personal pieces of writing into a blog. I’ve been blogging weekly ever since.”

Eventually, an acquaintance made through her blog suggested she enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, co-sponsored by the biannual Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop held at University of Dayton and by the Washington-Centerville Library. Molly placed in two contests in a row, with honorable mentions in 2010 in the Local Area Humor category and again in 2012 in the Local Area Human Interest category.

“Placing in those contests opened a lot of doors,” Molly says, adding that after the 2010 win, in addition to her own blog, she started blogging monthly for a popular international blog “Moms Who Need Wine” (www.momswhoneedwine.com).

In addition, Molly began to tweet regularly and with great humor, so much so that she created an additional Twitter account for funny character names with witty descriptions. That Twitter experiment garnered such a following that she self-published a humorous book based on the characters, “Characters in Search of a Novel,” illustrated by local artist Randy Palmer. (Her own Twitter account, @mollydcampbell, has 13,800 followers and counting.)

Her latest creative writing effort led to the creation of Miranda Heath, a quirky 15-year-old who found a novel in “Keep the Ends Loose,” a humorous coming-of-age story.

Molly is working on another young-adult novel.

“I still write — as I did when I began as a way to reach out to people during my and my husband’s health crises — at a desk in my pantry,” Molly says. “Sometimes I pause and think how amazing it is that I’ve been able to connect to so many people through blogging, Twitter, writing and now a novel. I’ve managed to create a new career, through some hard work and embracing social media. I like to think that might be encouraging to others who for whatever reason might also be going through a time of being wholly or partially shut in.”

Learn more about Molly and her work at her blog, online at http://mollydcampbell.com/.

Upcoming events

• 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, Dharma Center of Dayton (425 Patterson Road, just west of Patterson and Shroyer roads): Gem City Poetry Stage will open with a featured reading by Paula J. Lambert, author of “The Sudden Seduction of Gravity” (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and “The Guilt That Gathers” (Pudding House, 2009). Open mic will follow.

• 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, Books & Co. at The Greene, Beavercreek: Bruce Hale, author of the popular “Clark the Shark” picture books, will introduce his newest book, “Clark the Shark Takes Heart.” Bruce has written and illustrated more than 30 books for kids, including “Clark the Shark Dares to Share,” the award-winning “Chet Gecko Mystery Series,” “Snoring Beauty,” one of Oprah Winfrey’s “recommended reads for kids” and the “School for S.P.I.E.S.” series.

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Sharon Short (www.sharonshort.com) is a novelist and director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. Contact Sharon with news about your book club or organization. Email: sharonshort@sharonshort.com. Twitter: @SharonGShort