Thursday, October 10, 2013


It’s good to have Author G. H. Sherrer, share with us today. I found her “journey to publication,” extremely interesting, and I think you will, too, even if you do not write novels yourself.
I recently met with G. H. (Gladys) Sherrer for coffee at our local Christian coffee house.  Gladys and I knew each other slightly when we both worked as columnists for the same newspaper, so I was excited to hear about the publication of her latest novel, The Breakthrough, Volume II in her The Keeper Chronicles.

I read Volume I, “The Mall Street Sleuth,” and did an interview with her for my community column in the Shelby County Reporter. So I was glad to have this opportunity to interview her as a guest on my blog.
Since Gladys (G. H. Sherrer) can tell you so much better than I can about her writing and publishing process, I’m posting the interview here, instead of writing another article.

Shelba: Gladys, you have told me about having a love for books and words since you were a young child. But when and what did you first write for publication?

Gladys:  As an early teen, I made a small submission to Grit newspaper, for which I was paid a pittance. But that taught me I needed to apply my talents elsewhere. Thus, a healthcare career caught and held my attention.
Shelba: So, did you work in healthcare before starting a writing career? What did you do?

Gladys:  Yes, I’m a former registered nurse who became a technical writer and then a columnist/journalist.

Shelba: What prompted you to begin writing novels?
Gladys:  I’m appalled at some of the fiction found on book shelves today, and thought a change was needed. In my work I met exciting people like Pulitzer Prize winning authors and playwrights who inspired me. I always read widely, noting an author’s style and craft, and during the writing of The Mall Street Sleuth I reread M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew mysteries, Tom Sawyer and many other classics I loved as a child, plus a few of today’s novels like Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot, Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron and Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.

I had won a few awards myself, and in 2009 I won First Chapter Novel Award from Alabama writers Conclave for The Mall Street Sleuth, my first novel, which inspired me to keep going. Of course, words had intrigued me from the beginning, and being a middle-child in a family of nine, I have a need to be heard, I suppose.  I was always an avid reader and studied a dictionary for fun in grammar school, won spelling bees and word games.   Also, I’ve always been detective-like in observation of people, nature and the world.
Shelba:  How did your own life experiences help mold your first novel?

Gladys:  Everything I saw or read was “Grist for the mill,” as they say. In the Keeper Chronicles, Starr, the protagonist, is an abandoned child whose adventurous ways are inspired by my sister, who enticed me to follow her into woods before I could toddle.  By age eight I was her cohort in disobeying our working parents—in things like jumping aboard a wooden pallet floating on a lake.  There’s a bit of myself in every character, especially Miz Alma who becomes Starr’s mentor, although choosing to make her a person of color came from an old, black farmer from my childhood.  Matthew worked in a kitchen garden for a nursing home across the road.  While he plowed, he sang hymns. At the end of the day he placed a basket of fresh produce outside our door, never allowing payment, of course.
Shelba:   What was your primary inspiration for writing The Mall Street Sleuth?

Gladys:   My healthcare career inspired me, as did my Christian faith and belief that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. When I left a career in 2006, needing a change of scenery, I chose living in a condo in Phoenix, Arizona for a winter. While there, I joined a writer’s inspiration group, and using a prompt supplied by the leader, I wrote a short story about the character now known as Starr. When hearing that I was finally to become a grandmother, I came home to Birmingham where I joined a writing workshop taught by novelist Anne Nall Stallworth.  Anne suggested there was a great deal more to the story than I’d written so far—a novel, so she said.
Shelba:  How did you go about turning the short story into the novel?

Gladys:  Using my analytical traits, I began with a story outline, and made up a character list including birthdates, physical attributes, personalities, quirks. I decided on general plot (coming-of-age family drama) and premise (We are “our brother’s keeper”). I chose a setting, the Carolina seacoast, researched its flora, fauna and weather patterns. I’ve had more rewrites than I could count, all which were based on writer critiques, feedback, and my own perfectionism, striving to improve craft.  I chose to make this a Book Club Edition with questions in the back of the book leading into discussion.
Shelba:  Tell us about the publishing process.

Gladys:  For one whole year, 2010, I stopped all columnist work, knuckled down to writing query letters to agents and publishers. While awaiting their feedback, I continued rewriting and editing and learning the publishing business.  At the end of a year, I had amassed a collection of rejections, and though they told me I am “a good writer;” they believed the story had “market appeal” and “merit;” they think my writing is “lovely, pleasant, has definite lyrical cadence,” the message was clear. Novels selling today are mostly based on witches and warlocks, Dracula, fantasy.  Did I want to write to sell, or write to fulfill my personal goal? After around sixty rejections from agents and publishers, I sought self-publishing avenues, and found Infinity Publishing in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Six weeks later I had a fresh paperback novel in my hand.
Shelba:  And now you, as author G. H. Sherrer, have a second novel, The Breakthrough, The Keeper Chronicles, Volume II, which you have published under one cover with a newly-edited The Mall Street Sleuth. Where can The Keeper Chronicles be purchased?

Gladys:   My books are available in several places, in paperback or eBook. Infinity Publishing has an online book store at, where you can also find a toll free phone number. sells my books, and they can be ordered by request at any bookstore.  I saw on the web where a bookstore in the United Kingdom is selling The Keeper Chronicles and was happily surprised to see that Ventura Library system (California) has picked up The Mall Street Sleuth.
Shelba: What now? What is your next step in your writing career?

Gladys:  I have an historical novel in progress, an antebellum South Civil War era, and am hoping for completion within a year. The working title is Love In the Crossfire.
Shelba:  That sounds interesting, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it in coming months. Be sure to keep us posted on facebook about your progress with the new book and on what’s happening with the first two.  In the meantime, I want to thank you for being a guest on my blog today.

Gladys, author G.H. Sherrer, a member of Alabama Writers Forum, is an experienced public speaker and is available for writing workshops, conferences and book clubs. She was recently contacted about speaking to a Highland Lake book club, the date to be announced. She can be contacted at “Like” her on facebook at Gladys H. Sherrer, Author. Read more about her and her writing--and her interview with me on my upcoming book--on her blog,


Elaine Stock said...

Great interview, ladies! Blessings.

Shelba Shelton Nivens said...

THANKS, Elaine. I would love to do an interview with you, too.