The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Local author pens book about surviving trauma

Former social worker has book signing slated for Monday


Courtney Fletcher

Local author Cheryl Reich-Bills will hold a book signing at Serenity Cafe on Monday, August 10.

Local author Cheryl Reich-Bills used her own life experiences to write a book about self-preservation and survival.

"Split" is Reich-Bills' first book in a trilogy that covers the lives of several girls' lives over a 60-year period.

Sidney has acted as a second home to Reich-Bills as her mother, Mary Ann Baack, and sister, Julie Gehrig, have lived in the community for more than 40 years.

Reich-Bills received a degree in social work from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, which helped fuel her passion for writing.

Inspired by the children she worked with as a social worker for the past 22 years, Reich-Bills' book "Split" is about self-preservation and surviving trauma.

"I have been a foster mother to dozens of teenage girls and also residential director of group homes for girls and boys," she said. "I have witnessed every type of abuse that can be inflicted upon a child. I too have survived trauma, but none of it compares to what I have seen children survive. The resiliency of children is what inspired me to write about why some survive unbelievable pain and loss."

Reich-Bills began writing as a teenager when she started keeping diaries and journals.

"My journals started before I became a reporter for newspapers in Arizona and Colorado, and when I re-read them, I am carried back in time," she said. "They help me remember times that I would have forgotten about. I guess I have always liked writing, and I have learned a lot about myself, like developing patience and persistence."

According to Reich-Bills, to be a writer you must let yourself be vulnerable, which is not a weakness but a measure of our courage.

"I spent years being afraid to share my writing," she added. "My journals contained good writing, but no one ever read them. Now I have hope that my stories will connect with readers because I've taken that scary, emotional risk of being vulnerable."

She hopes that readers will find pieces of themselves in "Split," or share the book with someone who has survived any type of trauma.

"All survivors have much in common, and we can all learn self-preservation by sharing stories," she said. "If 'Split' helps anyone who is struggling to survive, then I will have accomplished what I have come to call "my calling."

"'Split' is dedicated to "mothers and daughters everywhere with hope that all will find the keys to unlock the mysteries of your one and only life. If you finally find those keys, you will become more real. One of the mysteries of life is that relationship you have with your mother. There is no other one that you will ever have that is as lasting as the one you have with your mother."

Reich-Bills will be holding a book signing Monday, Aug. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon at Serenity Cafe in Sidney. She will also be hosting an author discussion at the Sidney Public Library on Aug. 29 at 1 p.m.


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