In August 2019, St. Bonaventure University graduate Taylor Kickbush had no idea a novel was in her immediate future.
By the end of July 2020, her novel, “Endless in August” was posted for sale on Amazon and, shortly thereafter, available in stores.
Published by New Degree Press, “Endless in August” is a novel sprung from past fears and present courage, a 25,000-word story about the choices a person who only has so much longer left to live might make.
Sign Up for Greater Olean Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.
You have successfully signed up for the TAPinto Greater Olean Newsletter.
Kickbush, who grew up in small-town Dayton, New York, who was educated in the Gowanda Central School District, and who lives in Washington, D.C., is an example of someone who takes life by the reins and follows her dreams.
Her novel concerns a father named Ben and his daughter Gracie, who, while dealing with their individual struggles, find time to appreciate the little things, including their annual summer fishing trip. One August, a question holds their focus: If we only had 24 hours left to live, what would we be doing?
On Saturday, Kickbush will be back in her hometown area for a book signing in Jesse’s Home & Gifts, 53 W. Main St., Gowanda. According to the announcement on her Facebook page, the event will be from 10 a.m. until noon, and pandemic safety protocols will be in place.
Kickbush worked as a communications specialist at Corning Community College for a year after her 2017 graduation from St. Bonaventure but found the social media work was not fulfilling her passion.
So, Kickbush applied for a job in D.C., which had always been a dream home for her, and landed the position of user experience (UX) engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration. At this point, designing, not writing, was her primary focus.
However, on Aug. 4, 2019, a car accident changed her life. After spending a weekend in Virginia Beach and Newport News with her high school best friend Alayna Kerr, Kickbush headed home to D.C., a 3½ hour ride mostly on I-95, in the early afternoon.
“About 45 minutes into my trek home, there was construction on the expressway and a lane merge, which people going way too fast didn’t realize until the last minute,” Kickbush said.
The vehicle behind her did not slow down quickly enough and rear ended her at 50 mph. The momentum forced her to drive down a steep hill, and she hit her head hard enough to pass out momentarily. She was rushed to a hospital, and after she was released that night, she ended up taking a six-hour bus ride home.
“All I wanted was to be home and safe,” Kickbush recalled.
The accident provided the spark that inspired her to go through the process of writing her novel. Having a near-death experience led her to explore the deep questions most people tend to avoid. The process was not easy, but she found that trusting herself and committing to the novel made all the difference.
Kickbush described the writing process as a “love hate relationship, adding, “With a full-time job, a steady relationship (with Kyllan Gilmore) and social engagements to attend, I had to budget my time efficiently.”
It took persistence for her to say no to people and other opportunities, but all the hard choices paid off as Kickbush finished her first draft in five months. Two months later, a completed story was in her hands.
The editing process required Kickbush to hand her work over to professional editors, among them Emily Price and author Michael Bailey. And she worked with the Creator Institute.
A writer wants to believe that her product is the best version it can be, and Kickbush recalled the letdown she experienced over changes written in and mistakes pointed out. However, it became apparent that these outside perspectives were necessary to make her story thrive.
August 2020 rolled around sooner than Kickbush could prepare herself for the whirlwind that comes with publishing a book.
“At first, it’s scary waiting to see what people will think, but once reactions started rolling in the process became much more fun,” Kickbush said.
And she found it to be a relief to hear who liked which characters or which chapters the best.
“Endless in August” has led Kickbush to realize that she can make time for other goals outside of work because it is important to fuel passions, and, for her, those passions include training for a marathon and running her blog, “TaykingOnTheWorld.”
Kickbush started college in 2013 at Jamestown Community College and spent a year studying abroad in London and interned in digital marketing for a small startup similar to Groupon. After she was graduated from JCC with an associate’s degree in communication science, she transferred to St. Bonaventure in 2015 as a journalism/mass communication major. She recalled thriving in the Jandoli School of Communication and pursuing internship opportunities including photography with Danny Bush, the university’s senior multimedia producer; with the Subject Matter public relations firm in D.C., and in social media for the Society of St. Vincent DePaul. In her final semester at St. Bonaventure, she fulfilled her experiential learning requirement as a staff member of TAPinto Greater Olean.
Kickbush said she continues to be inspired by faculty members from the Jandoli School of Communication. She keeps in touch with Professor Denny Wilkins and says because of his motivating words, she feels “a sense of belonging” everywhere she goes. She recalled that another Jandoli School faculty member, Patrick Vecchio, took her under his wing and advised her that anyone can be a good writer, no matter the level.
While a second novel does not seem far-fetched, Kickbush is taking her life one step at a time and is excited about taking a yearlong road trip with her cat soon.
Kickbush said she hopes her story will help people realize that life can be serious but never too serious not to be enjoyed.
“It is easy to get wrapped up in daily routines and lose sight of what makes us happy,” she noted.
And she hopes those who read “Endless August” are inspired to face their own fears regarding death and to pursue their own journeys of self-discovery.