I’ve received quite the education this summer. I heard once that the more you learn, the more realize just how little you know. I embarked on this journey with little to no knowledge of self-publication. The “self” part reflects the actual story writing, but it takes quite a few professionals to bring the published book to fruition.
“The Girls of Haviland” is in the hands of a professional proofreader and editor until August 25. The cover should be ready on August 17. I am hopeful that the book will be published in the final days of August before I go back to my position as an elementary school teacher. I’m going to use the time between now and August 25 to try and finish the sequel. I want to savor the luxury of having these fleeting summer days to write on my front porch with my dogs.
Here’s a bit more of the opening pages of the book…
Christie took off toward the north end of our property, where the airplane was attempting to land. Da hobbled behind us, swearing as he held his sore back.
The Salmons were already climbing over the stone wall that separated our farms. Mrs. Harkins was pulling her son Ambrose by the arm, followed by Doc Birdsall, carrying his cracked leather bag. Miss Addison from the newspaper was running up Brewster Hill. The drone of the biplane’s engine became piercingly loud. Poor Ambrose covered his ears and started rocking back and forth.
“It’s the noise!” Mrs. Harkins yelled. “He won’t stop for me! Calm him, Jay, please!”
I tried covering Ambrose’s ears, but he let out a terrible yell and started banging his head with the heel of his hand.
Against the deafening crush of sound, I whispered, “It’s okay, Ambrose, the noise will stop once the airplane lands.”
He slowed down the rocking.
“We’re all going to die!” screamed Mrs. Salmon. “It must be a spy plane! He’ll shoot us all!” She tried to calm the screeching toddler in her arms. “Oh hush, Nell, please!”
“Give her to me!” Mr. Salmon grabbed his daughter, who was struggling to escape from Mrs. Salmon’s tight embrace. “You’re scaring her!”
Sullivan, along with the Salmon’s dogs, barked at the plane that was rapidly descending. Ambrose started rocking again.
“Keep those damn dogs quiet!” Da kicked Sullivan in his ribs.
“Leave him alone!” I grabbed my whimpering dog.
“Move back, everybody!” warned Doc Birdsall. “He’s trying to land!”
A sudden assault of noxious engine fumes made my eyes water. I tucked Sullivan’s head under my arm to protect his lungs.
“Mama!” Nell wriggled out of her father’s arms and ran toward Mrs. Salmon, but tripped over the dogs. The little girl lay sprawled on the ground, screaming as the plane came closer.
“My baby!” Mrs. Salmon rushed to scoop Nell up. She stood fixated on the plane.
“Move! It’s going to crush you!” I pulled Mrs. Salmon and Nell toward me with my free hand. I held onto Sullivan as I felt myself falling backward into the crowd. Someone pushed me back up on my feet.
“Here it comes!” Christie yelled. The silver underbelly of the plane forced us all to spread out in a haphazard circle.
“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry, for having offended Thee,” Mam and I prayed in unison.
The earsplitting noise started Ambrose wailing and hitting himself again.
When the sputtering engine finally ceased, a young pilot emerged from the cockpit, bathed in sweat and grease. “She was right behind me, I swear! I, I don’t know what happened!”
Da charged him. “What in God’s name is going on?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know!” The pilot unstrapped his aviator helmet and goggles, then bent over and clutched both hands on his thighs.
I took a closer look at the biplane, noticing that it was a two seater, with no gun mounted. This was no fighter plane.
“You’d better start talking soon!” roared Da. “Somebody just fell out of your airplane! Did you push her?” He scanned our frightened faces gathering around the airplane. “Who’s got a rope? Let’s tie him up until the sheriff gets here.”
I approached the shaken pilot. “Do you know what the girl would be doing up on the wing? I mean, was she -”
“Sheriff Stevens is on his way.” Margaret Addison pushed her way through the crowd. She took a pencil that was resting behind her ear. “Sir, I’m with The Courier. Can you tell me exactly what happened?”
Da grunted and pushed Miss Addison out of his way. “Get out of here, you fool woman! What went on up there? Start explaining!”
“Da, you knocked her over!” I helped Miss Addison up.
“She doesn’t belong here!”
He continued with his rampage. “You shouldn’t have been a flying a plane if you can’t keep your passengers safe!”
“It was nothing like that, I swear, Mister!” the pilot panted. “I’ll, tell, you, everything, if, you’ll just, let me catch, my breath!”
“Well, go on then!”
“Please stop bullying the man and give him a minute to collect his thoughts, Da!” I said.
“Jay, run up to the house and bring the pilot some water,” said Mam.
Mr. Salmon produced a silver flask. “The poor fellow’s had the stuffing knocked out of him. I’ll reckon he needs something stronger.”
“At this hour of the morning!” Mrs. Harkins said. “Is there any decency left in this village?”
The pilot took a long swig from the flask before beginning.
“Let me try to think. We were flying over Brewster at about 2,000 feet. I thought a bird hit the top wing. I look back to see that the seat behind me is empty and, and, oh I don’t know what happened –“
“Did she say anything before climbing up onto the wing?” I asked. “Was anything on the plane broken?”
“I just remember leaning out and seeing her up there on the wing and, Oh, God, I can’t believe it!” He held his head, and his voice broke. “I’m hollering and trying to grab her back in, and the next thing you know, she’s gone! Honestly, miss, no fooling, that’s how it happened! You’ve got to believe me!” Two tears were dripping clean lines down his dust streaked face.
“Do you know where she could be? Maybe she’s still alive!”
“Nobody could survive that fall. We were flying over trees and rocks, for gosh sakes. Why in the world would anybody…”
Miss Addison elbowed her way back up to the front of the crowd. “Did she tell you why she wanted you to take her up in the plane?”
“Not much, just asked me to tell her when we were flying over Haviland Seminary.”
Haviland. I couldn’t believe my ears.