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Illinois secretary explores universe as sci-fi writer

by VIKAAS SHANKERAssociated Press

CREST HILL, Ill. - Martian politics, dust in space and a magician's love sprung from the mind of 68-year-old Gerri Zimmerman, who has achieved and is continuing her dream of becoming a published science fiction author.

Zimmerman, who worked as a secretary for Caterpillar, and an insurance underwriter for Christian Brothers Services, published an e-book on Amazon called "Ancient Martian Echoes" in February.

Another novel, "Master of Seduction," is coming out on e-book and paperback in April. And she will be sending three more stories to her editor at Soulmate Publishing.

"It's been roughly three years since I started writing and I still have trouble believing it," Zimmerman said, explaining how she couldn't imagine before she retired in 2011 that she would be published.

The publishing process was tough, but Zimmerman found everything she needed online.

"I had to look up what a query was, what a synopsis was and I didn't have any help," Zimmerman said. "I just kept on pushing and pushing until I found the right publisher.

Zimmerman also said her experience as a secretary helped her learn and comprehend information from her editor.

Zimmerman loved science fiction ever since watching the old "The Twilight Zone," ''The Outer Limits" and "The Time Machine" when she was young.

She graduated from Joliet Central High School in 1963 and worked as an insurance underwriter for a couple of agents for eight years. Four years after getting married in 1966, she started working for Caterpillar as a file clerk.

After Caterpillar, she worked at Christian Brothers Services for 17 years before retiring.

During her 22 years at Caterpillar, she had a child and divorced her husband. Since then, she has been living as an independent woman with values she hopes to share with women through her books.

Zimmerman kept the stories of some of the women she met at Caterpillar and Christian Brothers who had been battered or abused, incorporating them into her stories.

She also used what she knew about the politics of Caterpillar's management, and modeled the character, Icon, in her first book after her former boss at Christian Brothers.

While her first book followed the political turmoil in a Martian civilization, the new novel focuses on a successful scientist who tries to gain back her memory through the aid of her fiancé and a master magician.

"It's just unbelievable," Zimmerman said. "How many people have experienced being published?"

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