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Employee stories: Writing on writing

I like to tell people I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen. 

I used to make pretend newspapers and write every article myself. I’d write “novels” (a few pages) and “publish it” myself which consisted of stapling together all the pages and circulating it to my family.  Throughout all the stories I wrote, some good, some bad, I learned very early on I had the ability to influence people through my writing. I could see that I could evoke emotion and response through my writing, and I had a particular gift for it, so it wasn’t just something I enjoyed doing for myself, I loved sharing what I wrote and getting that reaction from people.

In 2011, I was wrapping up a literal ten-year project I had been working off and on.  It was my first “real” novel and it was in a sense a very personal novel as it was entirely fiction but based, inspired and featuring real moments, people and experiences from my life.  It was auto-biographical but also not at all but it was intensely personal to me. The book was called “Ryerson” and was a coming of age novel about a 40-year-old man who returns to his small hometown and reminisces about growing up in the sixties. 

When I started sharing the first draft around, I knew I was onto something. I was getting showered with praise and it finally occurred to me that now might be the time to pursue my greatest passion on a full-time basis. So, I did…

I left my job of almost ten years and I found a self-publishing company that offered editing services and guidance that I would need to get started.  I had spent the better part of the previous 10-15 years sending in submissions to magazines and editors and agents and getting nowhere so I thought why not try this world of self-publishing and see how that goes.  I felt like Ryerson was the perfect book to bring to the world.

Marketing myself and my book became a full-time job. I visited libraries, book stores, reading clubs, retirement homes, traipsed around Ontario and even out to the East Coast of Canada with my book, swallowing every ounce of self-doubt to promote myself and my books.  It was terrifying and also completely exhilarating. I set up book signings that were super successful where I got to read portions of my book, sell copies, sign autographs and talk to amazing people. I also had book signings where no one showed up. But at the end of the day you have to swallow your pride and keep trucking to make the dream a reality.

After writing Ryerson, I had this itch to write something different.  I got inspired one night in 2013 during a snowstorm where I was stuck at a rest stop off the highway while promoting Ryerson and I pulled out my laptop and I started writing.  In a little over a year that project turned into my first horror novel ‘Desolation.’ Taking all the experience I had gained from Ryerson (publishing and marketing) and a little more money this time around, Desolation was a great success.  Success looks different to everyone so what I mean is… people bought it, loved it, reviewed it, talked about it and I still get stopped occasionally from someone who read Desolation and loved it. It renewed in me a passion to let people see my work and to really put myself out there.

Self-publishing and all the work that goes into marketing is an incredible hobby and side-job but has never been lucrative enough to rely on for a career.  It seemed disheartening that I wouldn’t be able to put the same amount of effort into my writing if I had to return to the workforce. I never believed I could find a job, a company, a space that celebrated us as individuals and actually encouraged our dreams. 

Recharge has not only given me a career and job that I’m passionate about but has enabled me to continue to circulate my work, get out there and promote my books and attend those signings and book sales as much as I ever did. The last book sale I had I actually worked my entire day from the book sale.  I was able to talk to my readers, sign some autographs and kill tickets all at once. THAT is a satisfying day. Now when I attend a book launch or sale my only stipulation is that I have a good wifi connection so I can work with the merchants I love and the readers I love all at once.

Nowadays (with two more titles under my belt in the horror genre for a total of four published novels) I visit a lot of art shows, libraries, book stores and set up my own signings and such.  I sell a lot of digital copies (especially in the UK … they love horror over there!). I’m actively working on a sequel to Desolation and I look forward to pursuing my dreams and my hobby like I have always done, with vigor and passion always eager for the next challenge.