Carolyn Schriber hated history classes when she was growing up because they required little but memorization. Once she was so bored by the material that instead of answering an essay exam on the Revolutionary War, she filled in the space by writing several verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The professor gave her an A, which may have suggested that he was as tired of names and dates as she was. Or maybe he was just impressed that she knew more than the first verse.
Eventually, however, she discovered a teacher who was an enthusiastic story-teller, and her love of history blossomed. While her husband served as a career Air Force officer, she taught high school Latin and English wherever they happened to be stationed. Then she went on to earn her doctoral degree in medieval history from the University of Colorado and spent the last seventeen years of her teaching career as the kind of college professor she had always wanted to have.
After her retirement from teaching at Rhodes College, Schriber used her training and talents to examine a little-known event at the beginning of the Civil War. Taking her great-uncle’s letters as a starting point, she analyzed the strategic errors that turned the Battle of Secessionville into a rout (A Scratch with the Rebels, 2007). In 2009, tired of the rigmarole and delays of traditional publishing, Schriber decided to become a self-publisher. She founded her own company, Katzenhaus Books, and since then has assumed total responsibility for producing ten of her own books, along with second editions of two that had formerly been issued by traditional houses. (The name “Katzenhaus“ came from the four cats who share their house with Carolyn and who spend their days in her office, making sure she keeps writing.)
Being an independent publisher, she notes, is not easy. It involves dealing with outside service providers who provide editing, design, formatting, and printing. It also calls for knowledge of computer programs, social media, public relations, and finance. But it also has its own rewards, giving the author-publisher complete control over the final product and a closer relationship with customers.
She looked at the life of a nurse who worked with her great-uncle's regiment (Beyond All Price, 2010). A missionary who arrived to care for abandoned slaves became the subject of another biography (The Road to Frogmore, 2011). Both Civil received medals from the Military Writers Society of America—a bronze medal for Beyond All Price and for The Road to Frogmore. In 2012, Schriber turned her experiences as a manual for others hoping to follow the same path. The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese won a silver medal in the category of Business from the also continued. Between 2014 and 2015, she gave us two volumes of a new series about the Grenville family of South Carolina: Damned Yankee and Yankee Reconstructed. In 2015, The Military Writers Society of America named her as their Author of the Year. The third volume of the Grenville Trilogy, Yankee Sisters, came out in December 2016. She continued to publish a book a year--first Henrietta's Journal, then the second edition of Beyond All Price, and finally Henrietta's Legacy.
What will 2020 bring? Stay tuned!