Roma Amor wasn’t built in a day.
The 496-page novel by Jonesport, Maine, author Sherry Christie took more like 46 years.
It was finally published this month. Sherry and her supporters celebrated its arrival at a book launch party at the Peabody Memorial Library in Jonesport April 21 which, coincidentally, is Rome’s 2769th birthday.
“It took so long because originally I wrote it for myself, which meant I didn’t take much care to make it a satisfying read for others, but also because I really loved my day job as a copywriter and would end the day [or] week too mentally exhausted to work on it,” she said.
Sherry wrote and rewrote portions of Roma Amor while on writing retreats at La Muse Artists and Writers Retreat in France. She said she is grateful for her supportive husband, Harry Fish.
“I couldn’t have done it without Harry being able to give me the time to go to France without him,” she said.
Set in Caligula’s Rome around 37 A.D., the book tells the story of a young man named Marcus who wants to cast aside family expectations and live his own life.
“He’d rather go out and fight the Germans than come back and hold Caligula’s hand, which is what his father wants him to do,” she said.
Sherry writes in an office located a couple hundred feet from her house. It is staffed by two gray tabby cats, Sarge, a 15-year-old dubbed the “HR manager,” and Barney, 3, described as “the visitor” because she spends more time at home than in the office.
“We thought she was a male,” laughs Sherry, referring to Barney’s name.
Sherry has earned a living for the past 20 years as a freelance financial writer, producing items such as brochures, letters and newsletter articles for financial clients such as JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide Financial, Prudential Bank and SunTrust Banks.
She has worked with a co-author, Washington, DC.-based psychologist Olivia Mellan, to produce five nonfiction titles related to money management. These have which have earned Sherry “a couple hundred dollars” a year since their publication.
“I was very surprised. I didn’t think anything would come of them,” she said.
Still, she is most pleased about the publication of Roma Amor. Her husband is even more excited. As of April 26, he was in the process of reading the book for the third time, she said.
Sherry said she tried to get a traditional publisher a couple of times over the years but got discouraged. She became one of the growing number of authors to self publish. As a result, she, as author, is required to take on many of the tasks that a traditional publisher would do, such as cover design, editing and getting the books into bookstores.
Sherry used the services of Machias, Maine, copyeditor Laurel Robinson to get the book ready for publication. She hired Peter O’Connor of BespokeBookCovers.com in England to deign the cover.
“I searched for design studios in Maine, but couldn’t find any with the quality cover design experience that I was looking for,” she said.
Sherry used Deborah Bailey of the Barnstormer Design Group of Jonesport, Maine, to create websites both for the book and for her financial writing business.
She is also grateful to Ruth Cash-Smith, business advisor for the Women’s Business Center at CEI in Machias, Maine. Sherry called Cash-Smith a “tremendous supporter” who has been helping with book marketing, something Sherry admits she has barely begun to do. She quipped the book launch party was “so far the highlight of my promotional career.”
While she likes being involved with all aspects of bringing her book to life, Sherry said writing is her favorite task.
“I would like to quit my day job actually and do nothing but writing books,” she said. “If I could do nothing but fiction, that would be even better.”