AN EERIE RIVER JOURNEY
Please join me in welcoming Guest Author, Michelle River of Eerie River Publishing to the Writer's Journey Blog this week!
As my parents would say: I have always been creative. As a young child, I would make up my own stories and songs, or colour and draw to my heart’s content. Before self-doubt or shyness crept in, I would create plays with costumes for my classmates, and I would sing loudly and proudly. In high school, I found love in art and design classes, and somehow, to the astonishment of my English teacher, I had a poem published in our annual literary magazine. This would end up being the first, and last time I would be published for almost two decades.
Although life itself would lead me away from the literary world, the need to create something that was uniquely me followed me into adulthood. I almost always had a full-time job, but for years during my spare time, I also had my own businesses. I painted and hosted paint parties, took family and wedding portraits, and tried my hand at custom pottery, and loved every minute of it. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties, sitting in a cubical and working as an Insurance Agent in Alberta (thousands of miles away from my family) that I picked up the pen again.
It began as a joke between my now husband and myself, about how I was going to write a bestselling novel and make us millions. After that, I felt a fierce need to create a strong, female-led dark fantasy trilogy which would border on the horror genre. Needless to say, I never finished the first book, let alone the trilogy, but I still look back at that moment as the start of an insatiable itch that started this epic journey to publishing. During this time, I got married and tried to start a family, only to realize it wasn’t going to be an easy journey for us. Over the years between infertility struggles and a move back home to Ontario, I had started and stopped three separate books, all unfinished - yet strangely still loved. The truth is I had no idea what I was doing, where to go for assistance, or that the indie author world even existed. I shut my writers’ drawer filled with journals and pieces of scrapped paper and stopped writing altogether.
Without getting into the details in 2018, our miracle baby was born. I give her full credit for sparking my writing itch again, as it was late at night after a midnight feed that I discovered the elusive website (which I am sure no one has ever heard of) called NoSleep on Reddit. Obviously, I say this in jest, it is almost comical how naive I was about the popularity not only of this site but to the creepypasta world itself. I was blown away by the idea that regular human beings, people with actual jobs and families, could, and did, post their writing, and have people read it. I didn’t have to write an epic novel, find an agent, wait for years for responses from publishers to be ‘published’. I could do it myself, and I could do it that night.
It wasn’t long after that that I found a writer’s group with calls for short stories and drabbles, then indie author groups that offered support, critiques, and writing workshops. The world had opened up for me in the most amazing way, and I wanted to consume it all. I spent my evenings researching, writing, and submitting my little stories where ever I could. I built up a small following on Reddit and created a Facebook and Twitter author account, which I thought was hilarious at the time. My husband, Scott, was very supportive, even when I sat up until the wee hours of the morning writing instead of sleeping.
Eloise was about one and a half when I decided I wanted to jump into the self-publishing world and create a collaboratively-written novel with some indie authors I had met along the way. That was in August of 2019. The “Storming Area 51” Facebook event was all over the news, and we thought it would be a blast (and a fun challenge) to write a novella in a month and publish it on Amazon right before the event happened. I was not wrong. Over the course of a month Alanna, Ben, Drew, Zane, and I chatted, plotted, wrote, designed, and created our debut novella “Storming Area 51: Horror at the Gate”. It was intense, crazy, and amazing - I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a great learning experience, and for me, a person who loves to be hands-on and in charge, it was exactly what I needed.
After that it all kind of snowballed into what I now call Eerie River Publishing. I knew that I wanted to self-publish my own stories, but never being satisfied with just one thing at a time I also wanted to build something substantial.
I tossed around the idea of writing a novel or digging into the old writer's drawer to revive one of my older ones, but I didn’t want to write; I wanted to get to work. As an indie author finding a market that wanted my stories was easy but finding a market that would produce a professional-looking cover plus interior, and that would also pay for my work, was hard. I wasn’t looking for professional rates, but I also wanted to feel respected enough to be offered something.
I knew I wanted to create a company that would do its best to highlight quality writing by indie authors. My main focus was horror and dark fantasy, as that is what I am drawn to and what I love to read. I wanted to make sure I offered paying opportunities for every story published where I could. I didn’t want to be a company that just did drabble collections, knowing that this type of publication doesn't pay the authors, instead focusing on anthologies and eventually single-authored novels.
I reached out to some friends and told them my idea for Eerie River Publishing, and asked Alanna if she would be willing to help me edit stories for the first collection. Thankfully she is crazy and accepted my meagre offerings, and with great enthusiasm and support I built a website, created a Twitter and Facebook account, and began the first call out for “It Calls From the Forest”. By mid-November, it had all come together.
We are now on our fifth open call if you include the drabble collection, we snuck in just to make ourselves go crazy right before Christmas, with only one drabble call left for 2020. Our Facebook author group has exploded with wonderful and talented authors, who all support each other and cheer each other on. Our first anthology “It Calls From the Forest: Volume One” was released during the beginning wave of the pandemic here in North America, which hurt sales a bit, but we persevered. Volume Two is being set to be released in August, and we are also getting ready for an audiobook launch soon, which is amazing.
It is all a bit overwhelming when I look back on the last year. This small project has taken over my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My whole life I have struggled to find a place to put all my ambition to own my own business and also my drive to create, but I have finally found it. I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I cannot wait to see all the wonders that 2021 will bring. If we can build this in less than a year, what can’t we do?
Michelle has always had a creative spirit and has a passion for painting, photography, pottery, and writing. To her husband's dismay, she is happiest when she has at least three projects going on, reveling in the chaos around her.
Michelle hails from Ontario, Canada where she lives with her wonderful husband and fearless daughter. A lover of hot, black coffee and everything dark and terrifying, she spends her nights writing horror and dreaming about all things that go bump in the night.
She runs Eerie River Publishing, focusing on promoting indie authors through author services, and publishing a series of high-quality horror and dark fiction anthologies a year.
Follow her adventures in publishing and writing here:
Storming on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WDZ97P5