Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

The Monday Photo Shoot

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

I've never participated in this, but Karen picked up some inspiration from John Scalzi and his Campbell Award (very cool, BTW), so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Her assignment, which Scalzi picked up for his weekly assignment: Take a picture of an award or plaque or certificate.

Somewhere in a box are some certificates from school days. I wasn't much of an award winner, though I did manage third place in a city-wide essay contest in high school and somehow earned a II on a vocal solo piece in junior high. Yeah, you're impressed. I knew you would be! ;-)

I have a couple of awards sort of related to writing, though nothing as cool as a Campbell award. One is stuffed away in a file somewhere. It was the first-ever presented by a local Sherlockian society in their annual contest. The idea was to concoct a way for Sebastian Moran to actually do in Sherlock Holmes and get away with the deed. My entry and the award are in a file somewhere, but darned if I can find them.

My other award dates all the way back to 1988. One of our local newspapers pioneered an online service called StarText. That link goes to a Wikipedia article about the service. Unfortunately, most other references to it have vanished off of the web. I can credit StarText with my start in freelance writing. One of the cool things about StarText was its community aspect: they encouraged subscribers to write columns. I started off with a humor column that was called (I didn't make this one up) "Bareit." Let the groaning commence. That column was actually picked up by a local print newspaper. I was only compensated for that in copies, but it gave me a start on a clip file. More columns followed. I wrote about Timex1000 computing, and that column got referenced in an early book about online services. I added another column about British TV. That had a wide following. At the time I worked for a radio station in Dallas, and I added another weekly piece on happenings in the Dallas area.

But wait, as they say on TV, there's more. My bud L. and I started an online soap opera set in the Silicon Valley, and helped start a couple of chain novels. L. and I also worked on a few bits for April Fools Day each year. Those were fun. Eventually I was asked to write a column for the print companion to the online service. I'd come up with a different theme every month and highlight aspects of the service in relation to the theme.

In 1988 StarText decided they would honor a columnist every quarter. I was the second person to get the award:


The plaque is a little nicked, but it still hangs in a place of pride in my office. And somewhere (in those files!) is a picture of the publisher of the newspaper handing the award to a very pregnant moi.

But back to the rest of the story. The Timex column led to a call from a local computer publication asking me to do a review of the new Sinclair QL. (Yes, QL stood for Quantum Leap.) That was my first paying gig, and that led to a few more bits for that paper and a column on online communications with a statewide computer paper.

But just to show how some things go full circle, my first freelance sale has a relation to my first professional mainstream publishing sale. (Yeah, I need to rescan that, not to mention redesign the page!)

I can't say that the award itself led to anything, but it was kind of cool to be one of the first recipients.

So there ya go.

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Filed under: Pictures   Writing   Monday Photo Shoot       
8/30/2006 10:42:44 AM
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