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September 2019  marks the twentieth anniversary of Jay’s decision to become a writer. His gift to you all this celebratory year is DO IT – Twelve hard lessons on learning by failing, succeeding by accident, never giving up, and saying FXXK WRITING all at the same time. You’re welcome!


In the wake of the recent news about ChiZine Publications, I decided to terminate my book contract with said publisher. Normally, an author cancelling a contract is not good news, but here it was the right decision. So, given the time of year, I thought I’d share some moments of gratitude over the past twenty years of being a professional writer. Chronological, no less!

  1. 1999 – I had the guts to fight my fears and try writing, even though I was ten different kinds of awful.
  2. 2000 – Grateful to the handful of people who read my drek and saw a glimmer of something good while the rejections mounted and I garnered about two sales… then nothing for two years (ouch).
  3. 2001 – All the fun rejections I could from magazines in my self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), which I collected like baseball cards, prizing the ones that actually had information on them I could use!
  4. 2002 –  Finding authors like Joe Lansdale, Gary Braunbeck, Norm Partridge, and more, convincing me I could be a horror writer, and finishing my first abysmal horror novel, Chains of Bone, which remains buried in a friend’s basement somewhere in southern Ontario. 
  5. 2003 – Writing the very first story that I thought had my voice, called “Blood and Sawdust,” about a fat vampire and an abused kid who became friends. 
  6. 2004 – Created a short story about where RPG characters go when they are no longer used and then getting it sold to an Australian SF mag with a bizarre multi-tiered editorial process.
  7. 2005 – Accepted to the Odyssey Writing Workshop and getting six weeks to improve my craft, make life-long friends, and meet such outstanding mentors like Steve and Melanie Tem.
  8. 2006 – Sold a bunch of short stories, had a minor rep as “the guy who often writes about pro wrestling.”
  9. 2007 – I was a PhD student with seven part-time jobs, did my first international research trip, and ran an alumni week for Odyssey grads while also attempting to write a short story a week for a year… Great times, but the cost was depression and burnout.
  10. 2008 – Kept chugging away at short stories.
  11. 2009 – Turned my short story “Blood and Sawdust” into a novel. 
  12. 2010 – Met Norm Partridge, author of Dark Harvest and a great short story writer, and went to many bad movies together.
  13. 2011- Nancy Kilpatrick blurbed my indie novel A Triumph for Sakura.
  14. 2012 – Grateful I was told I’d do well writing a thriller with a female lead; though after completion was told by the same person, “How can I sell a thriller with a female lead? Men read thrillers.”
  15. 2013 – Survived unemployment, end of marriage, and death of mother.
  16. 2014 – Largely gave up on writing, minus an indulgent novella called The King of Saturday Morning, but came soooo close to selling at least three comic book series!
  17. 2015 – Visited the Philippines and the UK thanks to a research fellowship for a history book.
  18. 2016 – Contracted to write The Brimstone Files.
  19. 2017 – Hex-Rated released to good press and sales.
  20. 2018 – Black Lotus Kiss released to less press and less sales, though I worked with a wonderful editor and love the book more than the debut.
  21. 2019 – Completed a crime thriller about the world of pro wrestling, agent jazzed about it, and finishing a novel about the hell of being a historian in Silicon Valley.

And I am just getting started.

© Jason S. Ridler

Meet the Author

Jason S. Ridler, professional author and historian

Jason S. Ridler

Jason S. Ridler is a writer, historian, and actor. He is the author of The Brimstone Files, and his latest historical work Mavericks of War was called a “visceral read that is also an important piece of scholarship” by Pulitzer-Prize winner Richard Rhodes. He is a Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and teaches creative writing at Google, Youtube, and for private clients.

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