January 26, 2011 2:42PM
In his own words: I was born in Petoskey, Michigan and for a long time it looked like that would be my most impressive life accomplishment. Nothing distinguished me from other children save the fact that I occasionally stuck peas up my nose and had to visit the emergency room. The third time I did this they x-rayed my skull, perhaps looking to see if there was anything inside my brain besides vegetables.
Other boys wanted to be ball players, astronauts, and soldiers, except for a guy named Pauly who always talked about growing up to be a dancer. (This was sort of a tough thing for third graders to understand, but I think I get it now.) I never wanted to be any of these things, I wanted to be a writer. I actually sat down in fourth grade to write a novel and made it through 26 pages before my hand gave out. It was about a boy who grew up in “a small town in Chicago.” (I didn’t actually know what Chicago was.)
When I was 16 years old, the worst thing happened: I sold the very first short story I ever submitted anywhere. The Kansas City Star paid me $ 50.00, which sadly remained the most I was ever paid for a story until around 1995. It was the worst thing because it convinced me this writing thing was going to be really easy. I went to college at Westminster College, where I majored in beer. I was the editor of the literary magazine and the student newspaper, which, contrary to my expectations, did not lead to a greater incidence of sexual intercourse.
I staggered out of college and became a freelance writer. This didn’t pay for much of anything, so I embarked on a course which was to set the pattern for my writing life: I got a day job to support my writing habit. In my life, I’ve driven an ambulance; repossessed cars; sold life insurance, wine making equipment, and men’s clothing; programmed computers, and analyzed financial statements. I’ve had titles like Collection Manager, Director of Operations, Director of Human Resources, VP of Sales, and, my all time favorite, Chief Knowledge Officer. I’ve worked for small companies like General Motors and weird ones like Resume Network America.
And through it all, I wrote. I started getting up at 4:30 AM in order to write before heading off to my day job.
In 1995, two things happened. First, I decided that after eight unpublished novels I was simply never going to be published, not ever, and that as I started book number nine might as well write something for myself, a novel that was intended strictly for my own consumption. As I wrote it, I found something interesting: it was funny. Apparently, when I stopped writing to sell and just wrote from my own voice, it made me laugh. Also in 1995 I started an on-line Internet column. I began it with six subscribers, four of whom were related to me or were me. I asked people to pass it along to others if they liked it, and they did. At its peak, the Cameron Column had 40,000 subscribers in 52 countries, if you count Texas as a country.
I showed my columns to the Rocky Mountain News and in 1998 they began featuring me weekly in their Home Front section. Before long I was considered one of their most popular columnists, even more of a reader favorite than the woman who wrote about birds, though not as popular as the one who wrote about wine, oddly enough. I use the past tense because the Rocky Mountain News is now out of business, I am so, so sad to say.
Meanwhile, that book I wrote for myself turned out to be a sprawling, unreadable novel, funny but way too long. It should never be published, but when I showed it to Jody Rein of Jody Rein Books, she loved the writing and asked me what else I had. I told her about a column I’d written, “8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter,” and she suggested we turn it into a book proposal.
Workman Publishing put the book into the stores in May 2001 and response was excellent. Though the last three cities on my book tour were completely out of books, it hit #14 on the NY Times Bestseller List and was still on its way up when the first printing sold out. Crazed book buyers nearly toppled the government.
My national media included a CNN profile filmed entirely in the dangerous territory of my daughters’ bedrooms, a People profile, USA Today Weekend, the CBS Early show, some national radio, John Walsh, Iyanla, Wayne Brady, The Other Half, and CNN Headline News. I did countless radio shows and local television news shows. I have had many media producers tell me I am welcome to come back any time. People find me funny and engaging and I have excellent personal hygiene.
Oliver North (bet you didn’t see this coming!) took an interest in 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter because he has a teenage daughter. He had me on his radio show and introduced me to Creator’s Syndicate, which picked me up in October 2001.
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some public speaking. I’m not a stand up∑ well, I can stand up, I have two legs and everything, but I mean I am more of a corporate speaker than the type of person you would see in a night club or any place where popular people hang out.
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter was snapped up by Disney and co-developed as both a feature film and a TV show, the first time anyone can remember such a thing happening. The TV show is a hit and the screenplay I wrote was moving forward until the tragic death of John Ritter led Disney to reconsider.
I am the author of two other humor books: How to Remodel a Man, and 8 Simple Rules for Marrying my Daughter.
I have three children about whom I write frequently in my columns. They hate it.
I love dogs and my new book is about a dog: A Dog’s Purpose, which is a NY Times bestselling novel.
I am divorced and in a serious relationship, though it doesn’t seem all that serious since we spend most of our time laughing. We’re engaged to be married but I haven’t closed the deal yet and I’m anxious she may come to her senses before I get her served with the legal paperwork.