The cover is coming along, and some real life figures in the book…

I’m very excited to share with you a section of the cover of The Girls of Haviland. I met the talented illustrator, Lisa Fields, at a SCBWI Conference in Manhattan in 2015. We had lunch together and discovered we both hailed from the Northern Westchester/Putnam area of New York.

Fast forward to earlier this month when I cancelled an order for a pre-made book cover from an overseas company that did not get back to me in the time frame they promised. I found Lisa’s work sample cards in the briefcase that I had brought to the conference, and I contacted her straight away. I’ve loved the process of working with a local artist. I hope Lisa can say the same, as I’ve had a clear image of what Jay and Florence look like in my mind for years, and I’ve suggested several tweaks to make these images match what I’ve had in mind. I can’t wait to see the finished cover on 8/17, which I know will contain an image of the school as well as the biplane that Violet falls, or jumps from, in the beginning scene of the book.

I wanted to share with you two real people who appear in The Girls of Haviland. The first is Edith Diehl, a bookbinder who started the Brewster Public Library in 1905. Her father, Philip Diehl, owned Diehl’s Confectionary on Main Street in Brewster.

When World War One broke out, Edith closed her bookbinding shop and got involved with the Red Cross. Edith was commissioned to operate a Woman’s Land Army Training Camp at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. The Women’s Land Army trained women to perform farm work while male farm workers were fighting overseas. Jay mentions Edith Diehl during her conversation with Ruth Lefkowitz following the Women’s Party meeting in Lake Mahopac.

Marjorie Addis attended Edith Diehl’s Women’s Land Army Camp at Wellesley. Marjorie was editor of The Brewster Standard, a village newspaper. My character, Margaret Addison, is based on Marjorie Addis.

There is currently a display at The Southeast Museum on The Women’s Suffrage Movement and World War I. There you can find an exhibit on Edith Diehl’s accomplishments. The original sign for The Brewster Standard is hanging in the museum.



A Taste of the Book

Hello, readers! I had a full day of final edits today in my summer writing studio, better known as my front porch. It’s my favorite place to write, as it affords full shade for most of the day, and I can look out at the baskets of petunias hanging from the porch roof. Occasionally, if I stay very still, I’m treated to a visit from a hummingbird. Visits have been few and far between this summer, as my writing critics, Georgie and Cookie, like to accompany me as I write. They are not fond of staying still. Georgie is my Boston Terrier, and Cookie is my youngest daughter’s rescue dog. She’s a Jack Russell /Beagle mix, fondly referred to as a Jack-a-bea.

As I registered “The Girls of Haviland” with the U.S. Copyright Department yesterday,  I can now print the first page for you to preview.  Please let me know what you think.

Chapter One

Brewster, New York

Monday, September 2, 1918

“Mother of St. Jude!” Mam shrieked. “We’re being attacked!”

The slam of the porch door rattled the windowpanes. I kicked off my covers and jumped out of bed. My sister Eileen’s side hadn’t been slept in. I ran outside after Mam. Sullivan, my Boston terrier, raced ahead of me, barking. My bare feet were soaked in dew and grass clippings as I ran past the clothesline, where the shirts I was supposed to take down were still hanging. When we reached the barn, I saw Da and my brother Christie looking up into the sky, shielding their eyes against the orange sliver of sun rising above the mountains.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” Da pointed a thick, calloused finger toward an airplane soaring over our farm. “It’s a German fighter plane! I think I see a gun!”

“Saints preserve us.” Mam made the sign of the cross.

“No, it’s American.” I noticed the bright blue paint on the wing. “It’s VE-7 Bluebird.”

Mam looked back toward the house. “Where’s Eileen?”

“She probably stayed out all – Ow!” Christie yelped when I slapped the back of his head.

“You had a mosquito on your neck.” I glared at him.

“Where is your sister?” Mam asked, louder this time.

“She uh, she’s still sleeping,” I was so sick of covering for my lame brained sister, but I didn’t feel like catching hell from Eileen.

The silver plane dipped low enough for us to see a tiny figure

crawling toward the edge of the top wing.

“Oh, God, there’s someone up there!”

“Where?” yelled Mam. “I don’t see anything!”

“There!” I grabbed Mam’s arm and jabbed my finger frantically

toward the plane. Suddenly, the small form was in the air. I opened my

mouth to scream, but no sound would come out.

In slow motion, as if from a newsreel, the figure spun around and around, arms spread, floating in mid- air. The folds of a skirt rippled against the wind as the body spiraled downward.

“It’s a girl!”


A Little About the Book…

I’m in a bit of a literary limbo as I await the completion of my cover, expected on August 17. Once I upload the cover to CreateSpace on Amazon, my book will be ready for publication. Until that time, I am updating my facebook page, Deborah Rafferty Oswald, YA Historical Fiction Writer, as well as creating tweets about The Girls of Haviland through @droswald214. I want to do a final read through of the manuscript before I upload it to CreateSpace, and then it should be good to go.

So, a little about the book. I love reading the archival news section of my local newspaper, where copies of articles printed one hundred years ago are shared with readers. I save these articles for story inspiration, and three figure prominently in “The Girls of Haviland.”

I was drawn to a girl in a picture of students at a private girls’ school in Carmel, New York, taken around the turn of the twentieth century. One girl looked significantly younger than the others. I knew I wanted to create a story around her. She evolved as Josephine, “Jay” McKenna, fourteen year old protagonist of “The Girls of Haviland.”  The second article was about a Drew Seminary graduate who became the first person to commit suicide by jumping out of an airplane in the 1920s. This article inspired my character, Violet. The third article reported on a car accident involving some people taking a stolen car for a joyride. The car ended up in a lake. This was the inspiration for the accident that happens on the night of the Valentine’s Day Dance at Haviland Seminary.

Visit me tomorrow for a sneak preview at the first few pages of the book.



Counting down to book launch on Amazon!

It’s been way too long since my first post. My summer vacation has been packed with hours upon hours of final edits before I publish “The Girls of Haviland” on Amazon late this month. I have to admit that I started this self publishing process with little to no prior knowledge, and I’ve been navigating editing, cover design, and book promoting by the seat of my pants.

I joined several online writing groups, and their guidance has been invaluable. Still, I was under the illusion that I would self-publish one day and proceed with finishing my sequel. Wrong! I hastily chose a cover from the images available on the publishing website, and I ended up with a pink and purple cover that reflected nothing about my historical fiction book. Good fortune smiled upon me when I discovered some art samples left in a briefcase I brought to a SCBWI conference in 2015. I had lunch with a local illustrator at the conference, and I admired her work. I’ve contacted her, and she has agreed to design my cover. She will send me a sketch within the week, and the final cover will be delivered on August 18. I’m so excited to see how she represents my ideas!

I’m using the time before 8/18 to make sure my manuscript is perfect before I upload it to the publishing website. I’ve uploaded what I’ve thought is the final draft easily ten times so far. I keep finding a period followed by two spaces instead of one, and the same word used twice within the same paragraph. I’ve been googling coal shortages, World War 1 battles, and food rationing during my time period of 1918-1919. Writing historical fiction gives one a sense of vulnerability, as there will always be someone who will point out that you used an appliance in your story that hasn’t yet been invented,  an address that didn’t exist, or a building that burned down prior to your story.  I’m triple checking my facts, but I’m sure I’ll miss something.

I’m going to blog every day this month to let you know about my journey toward publication. I’ll share bits of my story to interest you, and provide insights into my trial and error approach to publishing.

I’m promoting my book on Facebook and Twitter. Please check out my facebook page, Deborah Rafferty Oswald, Writer of Young Adult Historical, and follow me on Twitter, @ droswald214.


A little bit about my manuscript…

Hi, historical fiction fans! I’ve completed a manuscript set in 1918 Brewster, New York. My protagonist in 13-year-old Josephine “Jay” McKenna. On the day before she is set to leave home to begin her freshman year at Haviland Seminary for Girls, she witnesses a girl falling, or jumping, from a World War I biplane on the McKenna’s failing farm. Jay learns later on in the day that the girl on the plane was about to start at Haviland as well…