Cassie Younker McMurry
Cassie Younker McMurry

CELINA – Cassie Younker McMurry, a Rockford native and 2003 Parkway/Vantage graduate, always wanted to be a high school English teacher. Instead she has become a published author.

Her first book, “Training Camp,” is the first book of a three-part series, introducing two characters, Paige, a juvenile probation officer with a young son, and Matt, a MMA fighter training for a title fight. The second book of the series, “Fight Night,” will come out before Christmas with the last book of the series, “Title Defense,” expected in the spring of 2018. She publishes under the name Laynie McMurry.

“I’ve always been fascinated with reading and writing,” McMurry said. “And trying to teach others.”

Somehow, McMurry found herself pursuing a more creative path.

“I had my first poem published as a senior in high school. Mr. Hoblet, when he was teaching at Vantage, really pushed me. He said, ‘this is really good, you need to send it out,’” said McMurry. “Vantage actually purchased the book in which the poem was published so it was in the library.”

“I wrote these stories. It’s been six, eight years ago and I just kinda sat on them. I didn’t really believe in myself that they would do anything. I never sent them off for anyone else to read and then one of my best friends kept pushing me. ‘These are so good, do something with them. This is your dream. Why are you letting anyone tell you that it’s not good. This is what you want, do it!’” she continued.

This friend, Jamie Painter of Ohio City, has provided the artwork for the covers of McMurry’s books.

They had been working together, McMurry said, and she told Painter one day that she wanted to send her work to a publisher but she was so scared.

“She flat out told me one day, ‘if you don’t push that button I’m going to come over and push it for you,’” said McMurry.

Not only did Painter motivate McMurry to look into self-publishing, but she told her about a cousin, Tia Caffee, who was working with a small, area publishing company.

She received further encouragement when she got married.

“My husband Jeremy said, ‘this is your dream, chase it,’” said McMurry. “Between those two, they made me believe in myself and I sent my book off to a self-publish training camp first and then I contacted Coco Publications out of Coldwater, who explained how they publish books and I took it and ran.”

It wasn’t easy, going the self-publishing route, McMurry said.

“I read a couple different articles. It was overwhelming because that is all you,” noted McMurry. “You don’t have anyone else to read through your work, check to make sure everything is edited correctly. It’s all on your shoulders.”

McMurry has not regretted any of it. She said her message to anyone who might have a dream they want to pursue is to put yourself out there.

“It’s scary but you are never going to go anywhere in life unless you make yourself vulnerable at least once,” she said. “If it’s your dream, you have to chase it, you can’t let anyone else tell you that you’re wasting your time or you’re never going to be anything. You might not get rich off of it, but it brings you closer to so many people who will support you. If you want to see the change, be the change. You have to do it.”

McMurry quit her full-time job so she would have more time to write. She spins her own yarn and has a fiber company she runs from her house. She said she wanted to stay at home for her kids whenever they needed her and not be stuck in a job where she couldn’t be available when her family needed her. She has three children, Serena is a freshman at Parkway, Nevaeh is a seventh grader while Wyatt is in fifth grade.

McMurry has not lost any time since her first book was published.

“I have about five other novels I’ve been working on, trying to get them all released. They are action/romance. The main characters are all female. They are strong females. They speak their minds and don’t let anyone push them around. They do what they want to do.”

One poignant tale has a special connection to McMurry.

“I had a son two years ago who was stillborn,” she said, “and his birthday was on the sixth and I was sitting there thinking, what is he doing, what has he been up to.” She was inspired to write a story about a mother who loses her baby who goes to Heaven. The story focuses on what his job is in Heaven and how he brings comfort, not only to her but other moms through her.

Describing the story, McMurry became emotional.

“It’s such a heavy subject and I know that, but we don’t realize how much our stories are like other peoples’ until we actually start talking to somebody,” she said. “Then we realize there are so many other people who have been through the same thing we have, but we are too afraid to say anything. For me, I don’t feel so alone now because I know so many other people have been through it.”

McMurry, who now lives in Celina, continues to credit area people in helping her with her work. Tyler Painter and Crystal Flores of the Van Wert area are the models on the book covers.

Anyone interested in obtaining McMurry’s book “Training Camp” can order it through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. There is a Kindle edition available. Anyone interested in speaking to McMurry will be able to find her at the following events: Fort Recovery’s Christmas Open House at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., on Nov. 18 at Briarwood’s Christmas Bazaar from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Dec. 2 from 5 - 9 p.m. at Mendon’s Holiday Open House, Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Mendon Holiday Open House and Dec. 4 at the Fort Laramie High School Holiday Bazaar from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

She wants to inspire others to follow their dreams.

“If you have a dream, you have to chase it, no one else is going to chase it for you. We all have a hard life,” said McMurry. “It’s not easy, but it’s all how you choose to live your life. If you are going to let life beat you down then that’s what life is going to do to you. But if you are going to stand back up, brush yourself off and keep going, then eventually you are going to hit that stride and life is going to get easier.”