Though it’s been in the works since April, I’m very excited to be able to officially announce that my debut novel, The Fourteenth of September, will be published by She Writes Press on September 18, 2018—the closest date possible to the actual title of the book. Sometimes the stars align!*********
For those of you who haven’t heard the story by now, it’s about a female recruit, in college on a military scholarship during the Vietnam War, who begins to have doubts. She goes underground into the counterculture, and risks family and future, as she’s forced to make a choice as fateful as that of any Lottery draftee. The story is ever so loosely based on a character-defining personal experience of my own that happened during that critical time frame between the first Draft Lottery and Kent State, one that I’ve always felt defined our generation and cried out to be examined from a woman’s point of view.
Early on, as I worked on the novel, there were a lot of obstacles—mostly questions about the relevance of the Vietnam conflict to Millennials, to anyone. Fortunately, the recent Ken Burns documentary Vietnam has returned the subject to the zeitgeist with a vengeance. Unfortunately, current events have underscored that the past is our best teacher, but we really do have to listen. Bottom line, the timing of release of this novel has worked out for the best.
Judy Blue Eyes or Lovely Rita?
All that said, this is a small, personal story of a young woman’s Coming of Conscience, at a time that is one of the most exciting and devastating times in her life, and the history of the country. There’s much more about it on my web site www.ritadragonette.com, including new chapters and the play list of songs that pepper the narrative, as they did the times. It’s not all tough stuff, there’s nostalgia and humor, and if you’ve ever been nineteen, you’ll empathize with my main character—Judy Blue Eyes (I just couldn’t use Lovely Rita, though I was tempted). And, now that I’m on the subject, I must admit I did shamelessly steal aspects of real people I knew then—a gesture, a way of speaking, a suggestion, even a claim to have written the phrase Let It Be before the Beatles. They may recognize themselves, but it’s all done with affection, if also irony.
She Writes … So I can
I’m very excited about She Writes Press an award-winning, independent publishing company that supports SheWrites.com, the largest global community of women writers, but appeals to ALL readers. I’m psyched about their mission, their distribution, and their philosophy of partnership with their writers.
I’m also very excited about the support I’ve received so far, including a wonderful cover blurb from the insanely successful, best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard.
“It’s been said that in the anti-war movement of the 1970s, the men stormed the barricades and the women made the coffee. Rita Dragonette has written a strong-hearted and authentic novel about a naive young girl and her struggle to reconcile the dissonance between the world she sees and the world she was raised to believe in. Judy is truly a quiet hero; you won’t forget her.”
–– Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Two if By Sea
I’ll keep you informed, through this blog, about progress on the publication, marketing, and availability of my novel.
I appreciate the support I’ve received from so many of you over the very long gestation of this novel and look forward to celebrating publication. For now, please put The Fourteenth of September on your reading list or book club schedule for September. I’m up for events of all kinds. I’ve been waiting over forty years to talk about this story. I’ll be anxious to share.