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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Dexter native rediscovers her talent, writes children's book

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sherry Machen of Dexter poses with her book.
DEXTER -- Sherry Machen admits she dabbled with writing poetry in high school, but it was never anything she aspired to do -- that would come years later.

In September 2003, while watching a television program, Machen noticed a man reading a story to children and thought, "I can do that," Machen recalled.

Once she got started, Machen couldn't stop, she said.

"It just happened. Something clicked," said the 48-year-old from Dexter.

Four months later, Machen had 14 short, rhyming stories about a hamster named Hannah and the lessons she and her friends learn along the way.

Following some constructive criticism from her daughter, Emily, Machen began sending manuscripts to different subsidiary publishers that she found through publishing books and Internet sources.

Although Machen admitted she faced some rejections along the way, ultimately it was Essence Publishing based in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, that showed interest and contacted Machen.

"I was so excited," said the soft-spoken Machen.

While Essence Publishing chose the design of the book, Machen made all revisions to the book's proof, she said.

First printed last November, "Hannah & Friends," which is for children ages 5

-11, teaches children character in a light-hearted and fun way, as they read about Hannah Hamster, who helps her friends out of mishaps; Freida Frog, who overcomes her fear of Barbink the Fink; and Anna Ant, who learns how to deal with anger, Machen explained.

"'Hannah and Friends' is a collection of humorous rhyming stories about animals that learn lessons in love, kindness and sharing through interactions with family and friends," Machen said.

Although Machen works as a bookkeeper for her husband's business, Machen Electric, she has no plans of giving up on her talent anytime soon.

Currently Machen is developing the second edition of Hannah & Friends, which focuses on Hannah's friends and their efforts to overcome new challenges.

In this edition, fearless beaver brothers find their courage tested, sister ducks go looking for adventure and a brilliant bear gives uninterested friends unwanted advice, Machen hinted.

Also included in the second edition of "Hannah & Friends" is a story that developed from Machen's real life experience -- visiting her daughter in Paris, France, to help her move. Her daughter is a graduate student spending a year in Paris doing research.

"That trip inspired me to write a story about Millie Mouse, who leaves the security of the barn and goes on an adventure far away," Machen said. Most recently Machen has been reading her stories to children in local schools, and Daystar Television, a religious network, has expressed interest to Machen about selling her books on its channel.

"It has been great and all of the feedback has been positive," Machen said. A Web site is currently being developed to offer information about the book and how to order it, Machen said. The Web site, www.hannahamster.com, is expected to be launched in late March.

Meanwhile, Machen said she appreciates everyone's encouragement and support.

She said, "I hope my stories bring blessings and smiles."

"Hannah & Friends" is available at Patricia's in Dexter and 4 Kids & Youth in Sikeston. Weber's Ben Franklin in Dexter has the book on CDs. The book is also on loan at the Dexter Public Library.

To contact Machen, e-mail her at hannahamster@semo.net.