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Faculty members publish books

Hruza with her new book.
Shires with three of his books.

When Rachel Hruza was growing up in Wayne, she hoped no one would find out about her deep, dark secret: She was wearing a brace for her scoliosis. She and her twin sister, Sarah, both inherited the spine curvature and dealt with it during the tough pre-teen years.

“At the time when I was going through it, I was lucky to have my sister to rely on,” Rachel said. “My school had 350 students, but no one else had a brace. I got mine first, and then my sister did.”

Quite a few years later, Hruza decided to put all those painful teen thoughts into a story which eventually became a book titled, “Dear Isaac Newton, You’re Ruining my Life.” It took her only three months to write the book and more time to find an agent and a publisher. However, that was not the original title.

“My title was ‘Back Words’ but they (publisher) had more control,” she said. “They came up with the Isaac Newton title because the main character blames him for her scoliosis. It was something I had to cope with, you just adjust.”

Hruza is an English instructor at Southeast Community College’s Milford Campus. She teaches her students that writing is a lifelong skill, one that she has had a passion for since she was in elementary school.

“I explain to them that writing is used in everything, and if I can find something they can use in the future, it will benefit them,” she said.

She enjoys writing Young Adult fiction because that was the age she read the most books. She has a knack for writing coming-of-age tales, where the characters have some deep, dark secret or struggle, and ultimately no one is going to care. 

Hruza says she carves out time in her schedule to write and sticks with it.

“I just write it, chapter by chapter,” she said. “I try to write 1,200 words a day. I set aside time and force myself to do it.”

She currently has a couple more books she is shopping around and hopes to have some success with them before her baby daughter is due in November.

History Instructor writes book about Brownville

When Preston Shires set out to write his book, he knew two things: “Life in a Casket” would be set in Brownville in 1857, and the main character would be a woman.

“My protagonist is a woman; she’s coming to Brownville and she’s very Victorian,” he explains. “She’s trying to civilize the menfolk, if you will.”

Shires lives on a farm in Brownville and knows a lot of local history. He said it had a dynamic history in the first 20 years of existence.

“The population was as big as any other town, it was quite busy,” he said about its origin. “Then it collapsed in the 1880s. The railroad didn’t come through, and the county courthouse moved to Auburn.”

Shires finished “Life in a Casket” last summer and self-published it. He hopes to have two subsequent novels in the series he describes as a “cozy mystery” about a young woman, Adeline Furlough, who challenges the local newspaper owner and tries to create her own newspaper, with some interesting obstacles along the way. She is based vaguely on his great-grandmother and his granddaughter.

It only took him three months to write the book, and a bit more time to tweak it. He would work in the evenings and set a goal for himself each night. He enjoyed writing it and said it would take on a life of its own at times.

“You have to write about topics you’re passionate about,” he advises. “If you’re doing historical fiction, you have to have sources for it. I also set up a schedule and follow it and make it my priority.”

Shires also wrote a few other books, including “Knight Time for Paris” about a medieval crusader king, Louis IX, who comes to life in the 21st century, and “Hippies of the Religious Right” about the history of the Christian Right.

Books by both Shires and Hruza are available for purchase on Amazon.com


For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher
Marketing Specialist