Category Archives: Writing

The Story of Azor

How did the Azor books come to be?

The Story of Azor—How the people of Marblehead inspired Maude Crowley to publish five book about a boy growing up in a time long past. (Photo by Lynne Jastremski DeGrandpre)

How the Town of Marblehead and its people inspired my mother, Maude Crowley, to produce this treasured series that illuminates a child’s life in a time long past. I have the inside story and would be willing to produce a small book that reveals the author’s background and what it took to have the five books published by Oxford University Press. Plus, I have loads of press and radio interviews, high quality photos, and the original watercolor illustrations by Marblehead artist Ingrid Selmer-Larsen that were intended to go in the series.

“I just treasure them and it took me a long time to get not only mine, but my mother’s, as well, due to the book search and time,” writes Lynne Jastremski DeGrandpre who took this wonderful photo of the five books that my mother published between 1948 and 1960.

“I grew up in Marblehead in the ’70s. Your mom’s Azor series had a place of honor on my bookshelf, and I enjoyed walking the same streets as Azor and his friends. I now read the books to my girls, who enjoy recreating the same adventures when we go back to M’head each summer,” another Azor fan emailed me.

Dave in the summer of 1945

Dave at six at Grace Oliver’s Beach, Marblehead. (Photo by Therese Mitchell)

If you would like a book that gives the origin of the Azor stories and includes the unpublished artwork, I’ll go ahead with the project over the winter and spring. It’ll be available at reasonable cost in print and electronic form. Be sure to add your comments and suggestions to this post, Email me or check it out in the Azor of Marblehead group on Facebook.

An Error

A tasteful Vermont road sign

A tasteful Vermont road sign as illustrated by Ryan Fowler of Native Vermont Studio

It was bound to happen sometime—I would use an image in one of my blog posts (Inside Seashell City ) that was copyrighted artwork created by someone else. In this case what I mistook for a simple photo of an old road sign in Vermont that I found on the internet was really an illustration produced by Ryan Fowler of Native Vermont Studio, as he graciously reminded me in an email last night. I should, of course, have sought his first permission first. Please visit his website to check out his delightful creations.

Update on the Book

Dave's first Marblehead home.

3 Elm Street, Marblehead, in 1947, the year before the first Azor book came out.

Believe it or not, I’m still working on the memoir.  I started with a 210,699-word monster (merely 682 book pages – Who’d want to slog through that?) Now, with much paring and slicing I’m down to a 5th draft that weighs in at 71,743 words (a scant, almost digestible 232 paperback pages.)

And what happened to the 138,956 words I got rid of, you might well ask. Those words, with a little rearrangement, went into the 17 Reflection stories I’ve submitted to the Marblehead Reporter (11 published so far) and into the 29 blog posts I’ve put up here on my website. Talk about recycling!

What’s ahead? Well, for the memoir, its another round of polishing and then it’s off to a tough critic or two who know nothing about me and have never seen my writing.

For the blog I’ve got 5 or 6 new stories up my sleeve. Here’s one of them today.


Update – Progress on Draft 3 and a New Marblehead Reporter Article

Dave Crowley and his mother

Dave looks as his mother, Maude Crowley, revises one of her manuscripts.

I won’t know how the third draft of the memoir will read until it’s finished, but at least I have method for handling the revision process, which I didn’t have before. Now I can leave it for other things and pick it up again without losing my place.  In the meantime, my teaching is done for the summer; I turned in my grades yesterday. And the first of a new series of my Reflections has just been published by the Marblehead  Reporter – Dr. Sturgis

The Book

Actually, it was a gift for Dave's father who was an editor on the Boston Herald Traveler.

Dave works on his memoir.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories that I’ve posted here along with those that appeared in the Marblehead Reporter. The total is 34.  But some of you may have noticed that I mentioned a memoir when I started this website in July 2013.

This book is still in second draft form and needs a lot of work before I can think about submitting it to literary agents. And the truth is that I can’t work on it while I’m teaching statistics at Washington University here in St. Louis, writing new material for the Marblehead Reporter,  generating weekly blog posts, and taking care of normal household responsibilities for my wife Barbara and me. To say nothing of the exercise—three mornings a week—that a sedentary occupation like writing demands, and singing in the church choir (Barbara sings in two). Something has to go.

The original draft of the book had fifteen chapters and was far too long. Now I’ve managed to cut it down and have three chapters of the new version ready for some feedback. Believe me, it’s difficult to produce a coherent and readable book-length memoir when you’re used to churning lots of short pieces as I have. Novelists start at other end of the process, and have a far easier time with memoirs.

I could keep up the weekly blog posts (there’s no shortage of material) but each one can take up to a full day to research, to write and to highlight with decent photos. So I need to hold off on the blog posts for while and focus on a few more short pieces for the Marblehead Reporter along with the memoir.

I’ll let you know when new articles appear in the Reporter and when I reach major milestones with the book. If the meantime, if you want to be sure of receiving updates you can subscribe to the website or follow me on Facebook.