Many first-time authors get turned down over and over again by publishers until they find a company willing to take a chance on a fledgling writer.
That wasn’t the case for North Branch author Cheri Andrews.
Andrews, who moved from Monticello with her daughter to North Branch in 2010, had her first book published — her first attempt at professional writing — a year prior: “Reef Warrior: Journey to Discovery.”
Her publisher, Tate Publishing, just released her second book in the series, “Reef Warrior: Embracing Reality,” last week.
Andrews, who works as a medical records coder for Hennepin County Medical Center, said the books are aimed at readers from fourth grade all the way to high school.
She plans to have a total of 18 books in the Reef Warrior series.
In a way, the books are a mix of fantasy and reality. They center around Diam Roceht, who finds out she is a mermaid in the first book, but Andrews has incorporated passages that detail many challenges young adults can relate to.
Her ability to tap into the psyche of adolescents comes from her own experience.
Andrews’ inspiration to write the first book in the series came from her daughter, Emily.
“She hit middle school, and when she’d come home I’d say, ‘How was school?” Andrews said. “She’d just say, ‘fine.’ I’d never get any stories.’”
The channel of communication between mother and daughter opened later thanks in part to homework.
“She had an English assignment where they had to do a make-believe place out of some place that’s real, so she took the Great Barrier Reef, and all the little animals had their own little areas in the reef,” Andrews said. “I said, ‘You know what, can I take your story? I’m going to come up with a main character, and you have to tell me everything that happens in school so I can make my character believable.’”
She added, “Now every time she’d come home from school, she’d be like, ‘Hey, mom, this is how my day was …’”
Andrews said initially she didn’t intend to submit the work for publication, but a friend read the book and pushed her to send it to a publisher.
“I found a publisher, thought about it, prayed about it for six months, and then sent it in — and six weeks later they sent me a contract,” Andrews said.
With the second book, Andrews said, it only took Tate Publishing six days to offer her a contract.
Andrews’ daughter, now 19 years old, can’t offer the same perspective about adolescence as she could when she was 15, but Andrews is still able to glean views from area teens because of her involvement at Northbrook Church.
“I’m heavily involved in the youth groups,” she said. “There are probably five to six teenagers over here every single night.”
Andrews said she likes her full-time work as a medical coder, but the process of becoming a published author has been very enjoyable.
“It’s a nice escape,” she said of writing.
Those who would like to read the first two books in the Reef Warrior series can find them available for purchase on amazon.com or tatepublishing.com. The books are also available at Barnes & Noble.