Rosemary Vaughn https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com Official Author Website Mon, 09 Oct 2017 19:31:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 Back to the Misty Isles https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/back-misty-isles/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/back-misty-isles/#respond Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:57:16 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=678

Several readers have mentioned that my book has made them want to make a trip to the islands to enjoy its rugged beauty and explore the art and culture of the talented Haida First Nations. While doing research for my book Love on the Misty Isles, I discovered many changes had taken place in the forty years since we had lived on the former Queen Charlotte Islands, now known as Haida Gwaii. Like my readers, a trip back to the islands to see these changes myself became an item on my “bucket list.” This past July (2017), my husband and I took this journey back to the Misty Isles. Note the photo of me holding my novel on Agate Beach with Tow Hill in the background, the actual location featured on the book’s cover.

Unlike Libby and our time during the mid-1970s, we did not have to arrive on “The Goose,” the small amphibious plane with the front shaped like the hull of a boat so that it could take off and land in the water. We were able to fly right into the new Masset Airport on a turbo-jet plane.

When we lived there, our lives revolved around the military and beginning our family. Without the military’s strong presence now, we had the pleasure of exploring the environment more and engaging in the culture and art of the Haida. Our first stop was a carving shed where two young Haida were working on a totem pole.

There had been only one hotel and restaurant in the mid-1970s, but during our trip we stayed in a large lodge on the water, one of many accommodations, and had a wide variety of eating places in which to enjoy local dishes made from local land and marine sources.

When the base stood down, several of the buildings were either repurposed for civilian use or torn down, for example the clinic and hospital where my husband worked. They were replaced by a new regional hospital in Old Masset. All the military housing had been sold to locals or to non-residents for vacation homes. We found our old PMQ which had been purchased by an Oregon fishing family who had remodeled it extensively to accommodate their boats. It was for sale again. Should we have jumped on the opportunity?

Unless one had a contact with a young Haida carver in the 70s, Haida art was unavailable for purchase. We were fortunate to be able to attain two argillite pendants at that time. Now, there are several gift and art shops from which to purchase art and souvenirs. Their art has become world-renowned and highly sought after. I had the hope of getting a tiny argillite totem pole, but we came home with several T-shirts and books.

One of our favorite activities was touring the new Haida Heritage Center and Museum at the southern end of the island near Skidegate. Here we learned much about the Haida culture from the totem pole tour led by a young, beautiful, and engaging Haida woman. Even my husband got teary-eyed at some of her stories and myths. I immediately felt I had found my young “Willow,” and had the pleasure of visiting with her after the tour. Like Willow, she is a wonderful cultural ambassador for her people.

We also had the pleasure of visiting with my Haida mentor, Marlene Liddle, the Campus Community College Campus Officer, at the local Coffee Shop—no, there is no Dr. Shirlee’s Books ‘n’ Brew. She is a very busy woman and obviously well-known within the community. I know we’d be good friends if we lived in the same place. I appreciate all the support she gave me during the writing of my novel.

We also had coffee at the home of Jack Litrell, the photographer who took the photo of Agate Beach and Tow Hill for my book cover. He showed us his studio and prints of pictures he had taken around the world.

The Greater Masset Tour that included Masset and Old Massett was led by Andrew Merrilees who happened to be the mayor of Masset. We could tour around the area ourselves, but having the behind the scene stories provided by Andrew led to a much deeper understanding of the area. He also took us to the back of Tow Hill and the Blow Hole. Along the way, he treated us to a delicious lunch at the Moon Over Naikoon Bakery, a unique café in an artistically painted bus hidden among towering spruce and cedar trees.

We returned home from our adventures with many wonderful memories, photos, and a desire to make a return visit to the Misty Isles.

 

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Food for Thought https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/food-for-thought/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/food-for-thought/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 16:08:18 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=414

It had been suggested that I should include discussion questions about Love on the Misty Isles for women’s book clubs which often consist of women who like to learn things and discuss issues while still enjoying a good love story. Since it was too late to add such a section to my book without holding up the publication date further, I am adding them to my website. I have developed the following questions for book club discussions or for individual readers to ponder. I would welcome suggestions from readers to add to this list.

1. What is the significance of “place” in the novel, physically and metaphorically?

2. Millennials and Generation X may not understand how Deacon and Sheryl could not have kept in contact throughout their youth and lives, thus losing one another through lack of communication. Discuss how technology has changed communication—positively and negatively.

3. Are the characters realistic and are the plots plausible? Why or why not?

4. Did you learn anything that you didn’t know before? What would you like to know more about?

5. Were there any themes that permeated the novel? Discuss.

6. One of the author’s goals was to illustrate a theme of “unity in diversity.” Did she accomplish this goal? How or why not?

7. What questions would you like to discuss with other readers? Were there any particular issues that could trigger discussion?

8. Although the three parts are intertwined into one novel, each part could stand alone as an individual love story. Which story did you like best or could relate to most? Why? Are they stronger combined together or does it matter?

9. Which main character did you like best or could relate to most? Why?

10. Which male character appealed to you? Why?

11. If this novel were made into a movie, who could you see playing your favorite characters?

12. Were there any characters or plot events that you did not like? Why? If you were writing this novel, what changes would you make?

13.What questions would you like to ask the author? Should there be a sequel to this book? Do you have any thoughts on what or whomits focus should be?

14. What questions or topics for discussion would you add to this list?

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Meshing Fact and Fiction https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/meshing-fact-and-fiction/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/meshing-fact-and-fiction/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 15:48:07 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=409

In the preface and postscript of my novel Love on the Misty Isles, I have been very clear that I have fictionalized any references to real events and meshed their dates to fit within the timeframe of the novel. In this posting, I’d like to clarify further a few of these incidents.

Most of these clarification point focus on the University of North Dakota hockey team and the Canucks NHL team. In the 1971-72 hockey season of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, the team would have still been playing in the old Winter Sports Building, known as the “Barn,” rather than the newer Winter Sports Center, later known as the Engelstad, which opened in November of 1972. I placed it a year earlier so that there would be a setting with more modern equipment like an announcing system and spotlight where Deacon played and Sheryl sang the national anthem. It was also essential in order for Deacon’s career development with the farm teams’ associated with the Canucks, which had just entered the NHL in 1970: Rochester Americans (1970-72) and Seattle Totems (1971-74). These were real events around which I worked to create the plot twists and turns in Deacon and Sheryl’s love story.

I have already noted in the last post that I was able to create the meeting of Sheryl and Deacon as mature adults when I found an article that described the Canucks going on a team building trip to northern British Columbia and Haida Gwaii and used it to bring Deacon to Masset. The actual trip that the Canucks made to the islands occurred in September 2013. They encountered a very large and appreciative fan base there. I incorporated that event fictitiously within my story and its time frame. None of the characters represent real people associated with the Canucks team or its operation, and the autograph signing on the former parade square is total fiction. I understand the real celebration in 2013 took place in Old Massett, but I had to create a scene in which Deacon would see Sheryl within walking distance of her coffee shop in Masset. The reference to the Fergusons and Parkers’ naming their sons after Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews is also an anachronism, meshing their current NHL positions within the time frame of the story.

Sheryl and Deacon in their college years discuss the controversy surrounding the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo of the University of North Dakota athletic teams. In reality, the name was indeed controversial over the years, and it became complicated when Ralph Engelstad, a former hockey player, donated the money to build a multimillion dollar complex which opened in 2001. It was his desire that the Fighting Sioux nickname would be maintained forever. As Sheryl predicted, the ongoing controversy did come to a head when the NCAA stated in 2012 that sanctions on the UND teams would be imposed if they did not drop the nickname and logo. UND dropped the nickname in December 2012. After a cooling off period and a long process to choose a new name, in December 2015, the University of North Dakota teams became the Fighting Hawks. After a long history of being the Fighting Sioux with a nationally admired logo, it will take some time for fans to accept the new name. I am confident they will eventually, however, when they accept that it’s the long tradition and history of the hockey program that makes the team, not its name. As Juliet stated in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The UND hockey team has won several national titles in past years, but although they had qualified for the Frozen Four several times in recent years, they had not been able to bring the trophy home. Last year, 2016, the hockey team brought home the national trophy in its first year as the Fighting Hawks. Is this perhaps a sign that it’s time to move on? Our family was very fortunate to be in Tampa Bay, Florida, to witness this exciting event.

 

   

 

 

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Even Unaware–Art Imitates life https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/even-unaware-art-imitates-life/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/even-unaware-art-imitates-life/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 15:38:42 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=406

In my research to get reacquainted with the former Queen Charlotte Islands, I was amazed to discover the evidence of events, programs, or businesses that I had imagined in my first draft had actually come to fruition. It became obvious that art does imitate life even when the creator is unaware that it is doing so.

In my earlier post “Serendipity, I noted that while writing early drafts of my novel, I imagined that Masset had potential for a small community college to assist in new skills for trades and businesses in the absence of the military. It could also be a beginning step for local students seeking higher education. I wove these goals into my novel, and much to my delight, after discovering a community college affiliated campus had been established in Masset, further research revealed that course offerings included the trades and aboriginal cultural classes in response to the needs of the community. Students from the mainland could also spend a semester on the islands to learn Haida culture. My vision for Willow and her role in educating the outside world about her culture worked right into what is happening in real life.

In conjunction with the importance of education theme running through the novel, I was also pleased to learn the School District #50 on the islands has a mentorship program for students; therefore, the educational philosophy and practices of Corbin, the new principal at the high school, are reflected in reality.

Willow promotes the local art of her Haida culture in her gift shop Raven’s Nook. Unknown to me, gift shops have been established in Masset and Old Massett such as the Haida Raven Gallery, Sarah’s Haida Arts and Jewelry, and Gin Kuyaas-Haida Art Studio and Gifts.

Connor builds a cedar log lodge for his personal residence on the Tlell River. I recently found the picture of a lodge Haida House at Tllaal, a luxury fishing, tourist and conference lodge on the Tlell River. Although a larger commercial building, the structural design of it very much resembles the vision I had of Connor’s personal lodge.

Because hockey plays a significant role in Part II of the novel, I had wondered whether the islands had developed any ice rinks. An Internet search revealed that there was a committee looking into the feasibility of synthetic ice. I have since learned that this committee disbanded and the only outdoor rink in Masset is for roller skating and roller hockey.

Also in Part II, I had to find a circumstance that would allow the accidental reunion of Deacon and Sheryl. In cruising the Internet, lo and behold, I found an article that described the Canucks going on a team building trip to northern British Columbia, including Haida Gwaii in September 2013. Serendipity! I was able to incorporate that event fictitiously within my story and its time frame.

When Corbin first encounters Willow in Part III, her beautiful scarlet dress is made from a fabric adorned with a Raven pattern in Haida style. I was unsure whether the Haida used their mythical motifs in clothing and whether it was appropriate for me to do so. I then discovered that Reg Davidson, the renowned Haida artist, has collaborated with fashion designer Wendy Van Riesen of Dahlia Drive Designs to create fabrics with Haida motifs for her fashions.

Dr. Shirlee’sBooks’n’Brew plays a significant role in the novel as a gathering place where many important discussions between the characters take place. Research revealed that many cafes and restaurants, including coffee shops, have been established in both Masset and Old Massett. These establishments were not in existence during our time there. One such coffee shop is the Ground Coffee and Gallery. I recently discovered a description of it as a community gathering place on the website lovehaidagwaii.com. It amazingly sounds a lot like Books’n’Brew, except it displays local works of art rather than selling books. Even the photo of the building would be perfect for my fictional one. When we visit Masset this July (2017), I look forward to sipping a latte at the Ground Coffee and Gallery.

Our trip will be an exciting journey of discovery, revealing the parallels or the dissonance between my art and the reality of the Misty Isles.

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A Rose by Any Other Name https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/a-rose-by-any-other-name/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/a-rose-by-any-other-name/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 18:10:09 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=384

 

Twenty-two years ago, January 19, 1995, my mother passed away. There are still times when I think of things I must tell her or ask her, but then remember, I can’t. Memories of her are still triggered at unexpected times through unique events.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that one of my Florida writers’ group meetings each month is devoted to a fast write. A prompt is tossed out and everyone is given fifteen minutes to come up with an idea and write without concern for grammar and style. These fast writes often are developed and polished to become the pieces for presentation at our spring Coffee House. Let me describe one fast write experience at a meeting in the spring, 2016. It prompted memories of my mother and women of her generation in an earlier era.

Our leader at the time, Kathy, brought a bag of different kinds of hats and scattered them down the table in front of us. We were to choose one that triggered an idea in our imaginatio for a writing topic. Sitting in front of me was a bright rose-colored straw hat with purple silk flowers circling the base of the crown. It was obviously a Red Hat Society creation, but as I gazed at it, Iwas taken back to my mother’s era in the 1950s when a hat was a necessary part of a woman’s outfit. I immediately began to scribble the following creative piece of fiction.

Rose

Rose looked in the mirror as she put the finishing touches on her outfit. It was 1955, and whenever Rose went to a special occasion, like a wedding or a funeral, she was turned out in a form-fitting shirtwaist dress, topped with a matching bolero. Today’s selection was a rose-colored dress with large purple blossoms, topped with a coordinating purple jacket. Looking in the mirror, she adjusted the filmy rose scarf around her neck and pulled on the matching gloves, pushing between the fingers of one hand with those from her other hand to ensure a perfect fit.

Then it came to the pièce de résistance. Her hat. Rose loved hats, and in the 1950s, the hat was a woman’s crowning glory, making a statement to the world. Taking both sides of the brim of the rose-colored straw hat, adorned with purple silk roses, she placed it gently and precisely on her head so as not to ruin her beauty-salon coiffeur.

Assessing her reflection in the mirror again, Rose asserted within herself, No one will call me Rosie today. For some reason, she had hated the name ever since the Rosie the Riveter posters during the second World War. She sighed with satisfaction at the imagereflecting back at her. Today, she was Rose.

Hat for photo courtesy of Kathy Joyce Glascott. Follow Kathy’s blog “This and That” at http://www.kathyglascott.com

 

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Well, Hello Dolly https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/well-hello-dolly/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/well-hello-dolly/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 18:04:52 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=380

In an earlier blog post describing activities of our SolWritersGroup, I mentioned that each March we hold a Coffee House where we give public reading of short pieces by members of our Sol Sisters. We also serve homemade light snacks, sweet treats, coffee and iced tea.The event has been sold out most years. Sunday, March 19, was the twelfth Coffee House Public Reading. It was a successful evening, and the terrific audience gave us kudos for a very entertaining event.

This year was only my third year of participation, but it had become expected that for the treats, I would bring my “Hallo Dollies.” I suspect this is the main reason they keep me in the group! I was given this recipe by the Home Economics teacher on staff at a high school where I taught English in the early 1970s. They have become a family favorite as well as enjoyed by friends and acquaintances at potlucks. Thank you, Donna. I will share the recipe with you. Friends in the United States have said this recipe is similar to Seven Layer Bars, without the butterscotch chips.

Hallo Dollies

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup crushed graham wafers

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup pecan halves

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Pour melted butter or margarine into a 9 x 9 inch pan. Sprinkle evenly with remaining ingredients in order given. Do not stir or mix. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Loosen edges and refrigerate. When firm, cut into squares (approximately 25-30 pieces). Keep in a container in the fridge and set out just before serving.

Tips: I put the margarine cut in pieces into the pan and set it in the oven to melt while the oven is heating up. During this time, I get the other ingredients ready, while keeping eye on the oven to take the pan out as soon as the margarine is melted and not bubbling until it burns. I prefer Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. Bars can sit out for a fairly long time, but will get stickier over time. They are usually all gone before this happens! Keep leftovers in the fridge for another day. They last in the fridge for several days. Enjoy!

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Serendipity https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/serendipity/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/serendipity/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 18:05:48 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=369

Have you ever felt that something was just meant to be? Throughout the writing of my novel, and often when I was having doubts, I experienced several serendipitous moments that prompted me to carry on.

I, of course, wanted to represent the proud and talented Haida First Nation as accurately as I could, and therefore, embarked on extensive research. Then a secondary character, Willow Shaw, started knocking inside my head, insisting that her story be told. It became even more imperative that I not misrepresent her and her culture. I had read During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman by the anthropologist Dr. Margaret Blackman. Wondering if I could somehow be in touch with her, I googled her, only to find out she is a Professor Emeritus from the College at Brockport, NY. My good friend and sister Sol Writer in Florida, Virginia Campbell, is from Brockport and had worked at the college there. Serendipity. She knew Margaret very well and helped me to connect with her. Dr. Blackman clarified some points for me, supported my project, and graciously allowed my character, Willow, to refer to her in the novel.

In a later post about art imitating life, even when one doesn’t realize it, you will read how I imagined the potential for a community college in Masset. I was delighted to discover that a campus of Northwest Community College had been established there. To find out its establishment date and how that corresponded with my fictional one, I was put in touch with Marlene Liddle, the Campus Officer. She consented to being a consultant on other questions about the area and culture. Serendipity. These two women, Margaret and Marlene, gave me the courage to write Willow’s story.

It should be noted that Marlene is a talented artist and artisan in her own right, weaving cedar bark baskets, traditional Haida chief hats, and more contemporary creations. In 2013, she was awarded the BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art. She also shares her talent by teaching others the art of weaving. I encourage you to visit the websites and Facebook pages at the end of this blog to see examples of her beautiful creations and a video of Marlene demonstrating her art.

In the novel, my character Willow notes that in the past, only men were the artists and carvers, but that this had changed. Indeed, Marlene’s daughter, Cori Savard, is a talented carver and artist, having studied for eight years with the renowned Haida artist Reg Davidson. Please visit her Facebook page listed below as well.

When I began my publication journey, I was astounded to discover that one of the early contacts I had with the publisher here in the United States had a connection to Haida Gwaii. Then there were postings on Facebook about the support the Haida were giving to the Standing Rock Native Americans against a pipeline in North Dakota, where I had lived for almost forty years. Then the Royal Couple, William and Kate, made their visit last summer (2016) to Haida Gwaii, bringing the pristine and rugged beauty of these islands to the attention of the world.

These signs seemed to tell me that my book was meant to be. My friend Ginny told me I had been called to write this book. She encouraged me to read Big Magic by the acclaimed author Elizabeth Gilbert in which she describes her belief that there are stories to be told, and they land on the writer to tell them. The chosen artist must let go of fear and embrace this mysterious nature of inspiration. When I experience doubt, I call on these moments of serendipity to believe that I was called to write this book. It is my sincere hope that, in doing so, I have not in any way misrepresented this proud and talented First Nation.

http://www.authenticindigenous.com/artists/marlene-liddle
http://bcachievement.com/firstnationsart/video.php?id=54 (Marlene’s weaving video)

Search on Facebook:

Haida Cedar Bark Weaver – Traditional and Contemporary (Marlene’s work)

Cori Savard Haida Artist (Her daughter Cori’s work)

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Christmas on the Misty Isles 1975 https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/christmas-on-the-misty-isles-1975/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/christmas-on-the-misty-isles-1975/#respond Thu, 29 Dec 2016 19:28:45 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=298

The holiday season had arrived, and we were far from our families on the Canadian prairies, and there would be no going home for Christmas. We had a one-year old daughter, and I was pregnant with our son, although in the mid-1970s, I did not know he would be our son. As a part of the Canadian Armed Forces, my husband had been posted to CFS Masset on the former Queen Charlotte Islands off the northwest coast of Canada for the next two years.

Just like our current feelings in our retirement home in Florida, it did not look or feel like the Christmases we had known in our childhood. The climate was temperate and very changeable. I would dress my toddler in long pants and a light windbreaker ready to ride in the stroller for the walk downtown to get the mail, even if it was a bit foggy. Often, as soon as we’d go outside, it would start to rain, and we’d go back indoors to watch “Mr. Dress-up” on the fuzzy CBC television station, the only one we could get. We would try again later when the sun peaked through, only to discover rare snowflakes were falling. Back indoors to put on parka and snow pants. This unpredictable rainforest-like climate earned the islands the nickname The Misty Isles, and this was the setting for our first Christmas in Masset.

Since coniferous trees, such as spruce and cedar, were in abundance in this environment, a real Christmas tree was a must. We’d been assigned a PMQ (Private Married Quarters), so this was the first Christmas since we’d been married that we weren’t living in an apartment and had a house with room for a real tree. Supporting the local Boy Scout troop, we ordered one from them. The day arrived for its delivery, and we were excited–until it actually came. We opened the door to the Scouts, and before us was what I can only describe as a giant-sized Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The tree was so tall it would have touched the ceiling and bent over had we been able to get it inside the door. The “Ho! Ho! Ho!” we heard wasn’t Santa Claus—it was the Jolly Green Giant. Having no saw or axe to shorten the tree at the trunk’s thick bottom end, my husband used a kitchen knife to saw the top off. We then tugged, pulled, and pushed, and finally forced the tree through the door and into the back entryway. Our tiny daughter stood with eyes wide open and mouth gaping in awe, wondering what was happening. This was her first Christmas being aware of holiday preparations, and what a sight to behold!

After forcing this monstrosity inside, we discovered that the bottom half was so big in circumference that its branches touched all four walls of the 8 x 8-foot entryway. These branches, like the ones on Charlie Brown’s spindly tree, were sparse, but in this giant-sized version, there was about 2 feet between each row. Needless-to-say, there was no room in our living room for this ugly tree even if we’d been able to get it in there. The tree went back outside ready for pick-up, and we dug out our tiny, artificial table-top tree that we had used in our apartments.

Our first attempt at getting in the holiday spirit having been a disaster, we wondered how we could make this Christmas special. We weren’t the only ones far from home and family. Many of the service folks with whom my husband worked were single. We decided to invite them all for a holiday party. I baked all our favorite holiday treats, including mincemeat tarts, shortbread, and fruit cake, which, in my opinion, gets a bad rap. We also wanted to have a traditional holiday meal with turkey and all the trimmings. I bought a twenty-six-pound turkey, then realized I had never cooked a turkey before. In those days, long distance telephone calls were only made in emergencies. This situation qualified. A quick call to my mother on the prairies solved that issue.

It was a successful, appreciated evening, so in spite of our tree fiasco, we had a special Christmas and learned that, as the saying goes, “It is better to give than receive.”

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On the Road Again https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/on-the-road-again/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/on-the-road-again/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:16:49 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=284

          Me and my BikeOur neighbor in Minnesota lakes country asked, “Are you two a pair of nomads?” He was teasing, of course, but indeed it does seem like we’re always on the road, going to and from our temporary home bases to attend family functions, reunions, business appointments, and other obligations. Very soon we will be on the road again to our winter “tent” in Florida. Although we have only been making this trek for a couple of years, we have made some very good friends and have become involved in engaging activities.

One of my favorite activities to which I am looking forward, and which will make the long trip worthwhile is my involvement with Sol Writers, a women’s writing group. Friends often wonder what we would do in such a group. I explain that we meet twice a month with the following agenda.

At the first meeting, we do a fast write, an often challenging and nerve-wracking experience. Our leader, Kathy, throws out a random topic, and each of us writes for fifteen minutes on some inspiration sparked by the topic given. Sometimes, five of those minutes are spent looking for that spark When the fifteen minutes are up, we must quit writing no matter where we are in the process. We then share our very rough drafts and gain constructive criticism and ideas for further development from our colleagues. These drafts, after much revision, often become pieces that we read at our annual Coffee House, where we share our writing and home-baked goodies with the public. Sometimes these pieces actually get published. I was fortunate to have a creative nonfiction piece and a poem recently published in The Talking Stick Volume 25, a literary journal, released this month. (Click on “News and Events.”)

Since most of us are working on pieces we either hope to publish or just enjoy writing, we bring drafts to the second meeting for our sister writers to critique and support in our endeavors. Four of these colleagues served as Beta Readers for an early draft of my current novel.

It is now early fall and time to leave our cabin and wonderful Minnesota friends. Fall is my favorite time of year in the north, and a Minnesota fall is particularly beautiful with its vibrant color, warm days, and cool nights. So it is with some sadness that I leave the gorgeous scenery and my special friends.

So, yes, I’m on the road again, but I’m also looking forward to the journey to Florida with the anticipation of being reunited with the Sol Writers, who have become not only my inspiration and support, but also my friends.

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Birth of a Novel https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/birth-of-a-novel/ https://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/rosemarys-ramblings/birth-of-a-novel/#respond Sat, 13 Aug 2016 17:04:18 +0000 http://www.rosemaryvaughn.com/?p=198

Author Rosemary VaughnWhen I retired early from being a professor in Teacher Education, a colleague asked me what I was going to do now. I responded that I was going to go home and write trashy novels. Thinking I was joking, she laughed and said, “That’s a great story! Keep telling it!” Another colleague commented, however, “She’ll probably do it!”

That was May, 2006. In the fall, I did start a novella (shorter than a novel and longer than a short story) and wrote the first two chapters in a local coffee shop. It began as a simple romance in a unique setting. Then life impinged as it is wont to do. There were weddings and divorces, births and deaths, retirements and moves. You know—life!  The novella was set aside for several years.

About six years later, I finished the first draft of the novella and gave it to my Minnesota Lake Country friend to read. She gave helpful feedback and encouraged me to seek publication. My husband also read it and thought it had some interesting twists and turns.

Now characters tend to live in an author’s head, so as time went by, one of the secondary characters “told” me I needed to tell her story. I then completed a second novella, using the same characters, while introducing new ones as I told her story. I was motivated to write this portion while I watched the 2015 Stanley Cup hockey play-offs on television. If you get the chance to read my book, you will understand why it was motivating.

By this time, we had begun spending winters in Florida, where I joined the Sol Writers. This group of women writers were inspiring, thus motivating me to continue writing. In the meantime, a third character from my first novella had been nagging me to write her story. I felt somewhat unworthy of this task for reasons I’ll reveal in future postings. I did complete her story this spring (2016).

These three shorter works were so intertwined through common characters and setting that, for me, they belonged together. I am currently doing revisions on what I hope is the final draft of this work. What began as a simple romantic novella has grown into a three-part novel, which by the way, is not trashy. A little spicy maybe, but not “trashy.” It has become much more than a trilogy of love stories. Although that element is clearly present and the focus of the plots, readers will also learn about a geographical area and culture of which they may be unaware or have little knowledge. This book and its characters have become very dear to my heart.

Stay tuned for future installments on insights into my writing process, the progress on the novel, and its future publication. Click on the Blog post “Love on the Misty Isles for a short summary of the novel’s content to pique your interest.

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