Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Sherry Rentschler

Meet Sherry Rentschler
This Saturday you are in for a real treat.  I first met Sherry Rentschler on Twitter and immediately there was a kindred spirit between us.  She enjoys life as much as I do and misses the nostalgic days of a simpler time.  Always ready to help another follow their dream, Sherry is a quick with the encouragement to help others succeed.  She is also a hilarious lady to follow and interact with.  Her blog, Between the Lines, offers great advice on the writing journey as well as tidbits about life.  A military veteran with a love for vampires, her first collection of poetry, Paper Bones, is now out and ready for your purchase.  You can also pick up her 30-year photographic journey, I Wish You Joy, where Sherry fulfills her mother's wish for her.

You can follow Sherry on Facebook as well as Goodreads to keep up with her writing and her many exploits.  In a world where so many are trying to see what they can get out of you to benefit them, Sherry is a lady who gives and your life will be richer for knowing her.

So, sit back and enjoy this Saturday's delight.  You will not be disappointed and I am sure you will make a new friend.

Chasing Immortality
(or why I self-published)
by Sherry Rentschler

I always wanted immortality. I wanted to be published.

I don’t remember exactly when I was “bitten.” I don’t recall exactly when this compelling desire consumed me. All that is certain is that this passion, this overwhelming need, was something I knew in my soul would happen.

My being a bibliophile began when was very small. Read to before I could read, then reading voraciously on my own, books were always my friends. Borrowing, owning, purchasing them - - I relished the feel of linen or parchment under my fingertips, the scratchy swish sound of pages turning and the hushed echoes in the library, the fresh smell of a new book, the click of a spine the first time a book is opened. I always cherished these things and they have been a part of my psyche.

As soon as I learned to read, words held a strange fascination. When I would ask, “how do you spell...?” Mother would respond with the classic, “Look it up.” When I couldn't pronounce the word, phonetics aided. Lessons in vocabulary: if you don’t know how to spell it or what it means, don’t use it. All were lessons to build the child into a person for whom language was an ally and not an obstacle.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this love of books and words developed into a love of composition. My first published poem was when I was seven. At 13, my first published article appeared in the newspaper and earned me five dollars! Dad said, “Well, now you’re famous.” It was a hint, a taste.

Trespass quickly through the years to high school where I discovered the card catalog in the library. I loved research. Discovery of information was a discovery of new stories. But it was more than this – the library became a place of memory, permanence, history, and records. A place where words remained forever. Immortal.

 Realization cemented as I held these treasures, smelled the paper, felt the texture of the linen and parchment pages. The librarian explained that once books received a Library of Congress Catalog number, they became a part of the national archives. They became a part of history. The words, the book, remained forever. Immortal.

I think this is when the dream, the desire, was born. I desperately wanted to see my name on the spine of a book, sitting on a shelf, with a catalog number inside, a thing of beauty that would live forever. I wanted immortality.

Sherry's book, Paper Bones
Dreams have a way of being shoved aside for reality. I joined the military, traveled, married, moved, divorced, traveled, married, moved, divorced, moved, got my education, and moved. All the while, I continued my writing. I wrote for a newspaper, entered contests, submitted to literary magazines. Discovered poetry contest scams; lessons learned. Cherished my name in print, desired it above other things. I wanted my name on a card catalog. I wanted that chance at forever.

Married a third time, this time forever. Retired from the military and took to writing with more of a purpose. Well, sort of. The World Wide Web came along (not “the internet” just yet). More discoveries. More development. Web pages, online writing, working for an online magazine. Poetry drifted in and out and then took hold hard for several years. The lines blurred between what was craft and what was hobby. 

Suddenly one day the fiction took me over. I was writing and developing online stories. I co-authored a serial story online that was a big hit. The urban fantasy bug bit me hard. I tried my hand at co-authoring a contemporary fiction novel that didn’t fare well. This writer and I met online as poets. We tried to be novelists. Neither of us was ready. Lessons learned, but I realized I was still seeking that elusive bit of fame, that immortal touch. It was more elusive than ever and more desirable. I had much more to write!

Years went by. Gradually the surging poetry faded to a trickle and I was writing fiction full time. Web stories, short stories. I had a byline series about poetry in the Amateur Poetry Journal but I wanted more, something bigger. Went to work for a local newspaper as a staff writer and photojournalist. The photography provided a creative outlet; the articles gave me front-page visibility and a byline. The “bug” was back. Whispers of “archives” and “history” lingered in my memory. This was only a local paper and there were no archives and long-term history and I knew then I had to get out and find my own way. It was 2005.

Since then a great deal of poetry happened, along with researching a novel. I gave up the web site where I had written for nearly a decade and turned my attention to books. Books about writing, books on better writing, books in the genres I wanted to write in. LOTS of books. Trade magazines and contests for chapbooks.

Then I started collecting rejection slips. Oh, the pretty letters that told me nothing. “Sorry, not right for us.” “Thanks for submitting, keep working.” “Read more in your chosen genre.” So I did. I read more, I studied, and I worked. Writing demanded practice every day. I made it my job and then it was my addiction. How had I lived without doing this every day?

However, how do you know what you want to write, what you should write, what has been written, unless you read? The best writers read voraciously. Every published author always said in articles, I love to read; I read all the time.” So, the girl who loved books, who loved to read, read. Oh boy, did I read.

You should see my “library.” I have books stacked on the floor, shelves that are three deep with rows of books. I read poetry, urban fantasy, historical fiction, paranormal fantasy, horror, classics, how-to, how-not to, biographies, even children’s books. And I kept writing. I even tried some vampire fan fiction.

Slowly, I found the voice that was unique to me. My storyteller voice. My true poet. My writer's voice thankfully – finally – emerged complete.

Three years ago, I attempted to secure a traditional publisher, working my Writer’s Market edition for all it was worth. I also tried, half-heartedly, to get an agent. Obviously, not a success. Two years ago, I decided I would start working to put myself out there and self publish. I wouldn’t need an agent, but maybe I would have better luck if I had some success to my name and a book under my belt while I worked on my novel.

So, more research. I read everything I could about self-publishing, including everything in Writer’s Digest online, Self-Publishing for Dummies, The Fine Print by Mark Levine (about good/bad contracts and pitfalls), Dan Poyter’s Self-Publishing Guide Vol 1, and so many other how-to’s. I read about every self-publishing company online and looked for reviews and horror stories. I chose my publisher, took deep breaths, and jumped, eyes open.* * *

I’ve only just landed. I’m still learning but there is a book with my name on the spine. A hardback with delicious creamy pages, the smell of linen and ink, of magic and hard work. Moreover, it has a Library of Congress Catalog number. The bibliophile in me is sated. I am not immortal. But I did find immortality.

Sherry's signature line and title of her blog
Was it easy? Heck no. Was there an expense? Yes. And not cheap, not if you want a good cover, a good editor, quality formatting and binding. I am well pleased (and yes, you get what you pay for). Going forward, I will be smarter, more perceptive, perhaps even more daring. The future of self-publishing is a wide-open vista. Just be smart, be knowledgeable about your abilities, and know yourself well. Demand the best of yourself and your publisher. After all, you name is going to be on the book. Forever. Make it a proud memory. That’s how I feel about Paper Bones. I hope every reader will see that, too.

Today I’m working on more poetry, more stories, my murder mystery novel, and a vampire urban fantasy novel. Immortality’s whisper beckons again; I think the best is yet to come!

* * * *

Thank you, Robbie, for allowing me to share my story. I’m honored to be a part of your Mess.

* * * * *

It was great having you here, Sherry.  Thank you for sharing your journey with us and I wish you the best of luck in your writing.  I have no doubt it is going to do great.

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Did you enjoy what you read?  Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

Other posts you might enjoy ~ The Mess Welcomes Tess Stenson 
                                           The Mess Welcomes Matthew Krause 
                                          The Mess Welcomes Dr. Joan Claire Gordon

Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!

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