Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Flying Solo by Jeanette Vaughan: Interview and Excerpt

French Cajun Nora Broussard Greenwood was born with the wanderlust. However, her adventurous spirit doesn’t fit the sedate expectations of 1960s catholic New Orleans suburbia.  On a whim, she takes flying lessons to become a pilot. Nora discovers the liberating freedom of flight, but an illicit affair with her pilot instructor complicates all.   Confronting her ruthless husband for a divorce, Nora is temporarily grounded. Cast out of her home sans her children, she is threatened with her life. Desperate to regain them, she steals her husband’s plane. Trials and tribulations erupt as she navigates the turbulence her life has become. In a bizarre twist of fate, she survives by serving as caregiver to her lover’s sickly wife; hoping he will fall further in love with her as his soul mate.  But is that to be?  Nora must make the most difficult decision of her life in order to get things back on track.

Chapter 31

s instructed by ground control, the Piper Aztec was positioned at the end of the tarmac. “Lakefront tower, this is November, Twin Piper six, niner, one, five, foxtrot requesting permission for takeoff.” Nervously, Nora awaited clearance. If she got it, she would be on her way. If they stopped her, she might be arrested and lose her children forever.       

     There was a brief pause. “Sorry about that, Twin Piper six, niner, one, five, foxtrot. Clear for takeoff on runway two seven.”

     With a huge sigh of relief, Nora taxied the plane to the end of runway twenty seven. Good to go. She pushed forward the throttle and began to increase her speed for takeoff. Within seconds she was aloft. The Greenwood’s Piper, in immaculate condition, flew just like the other Piper that she had flown with Steve. The controls were basically the same. But of course, the Greenwoods had equipped theirs with the latest avionics. Avionics Nora had no idea to operate.

     Nora’s short hair was tucked up in her cap. She was wearing aviators; trying to appear as much like the Greenwood’s pilot as possible. Seventy-five knots, eighty-five knots. Lift, she was off the ground head­ing west.

     Flying out, she could see downtown New Orleans on her left. But as planned, she banked right and made a turn north crossing back over Lakefront and Lake Ponchartrain. Previously, she had only flown over the mouth of the lake, which in and of itself was over five miles. Flying over the diameter of the lake was nerve wracking. Once she got over the middle, there was water as far as she could see. As the second largest salt water lake, it was huge. Forty miles east to west and twenty four miles from its southern shore northward. Exactly the direction Nora was flying. She was relieved when she could see shoreline coming into view near Mandeville. She increased her altitude and leveled off at her cruise.

     Now, it was just a matter of identifying her land­marks along the way, making sure she followed her course. She had studied the maps more intently than any previous flight. It was going to be tremendously difficult to differentiate where she was over the acres and acres of pine forests. Once she hit land at Man­deville, she knew that she was about to cross the bor­der to Mississippi. Then, the plane would be safely in another state.

     The state of Louisiana operated under Napoleonic law. Baton Rouge was where her children temporarily were. Therefore, had she chosen to fly there, it might have been considered theft. At this point, everything she had just left was still considered community prop­erty. With the Greenwood’s power, Nora suspected they would find some loophole and have her arrested. At the moment, no legal papers had been filed; techni­cally, she was still a Greenwood. By flying to another state that recognized community property, Nora avoided the Napoleonic law implications.

      Hattiesburg, Mississippi was an ideal location. A small to medium sized city, close enough in geo­graphical proximity to Baton Rouge and New Orleans to make her plan work. Plus, Pine Belt was a general aviation airport large enough to have hangars for rent. As Nora continued to fly over the immense pine for­ests she realized how harrowing finding her visuals was going to be. There were acres upon acres of them. Tall, lush, and stately under most circumstances unless you were attempting to find a landmark. Pin­pointing her point of reference was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

     Nora plotted her journey along the parallel route that Charlene was driving on Highway 11. Nora knew that construction had commenced for the future Inter­state 59. With both roadways running together in jagged patterns they made a decent north south van­tage point for her to follow.

     Nora made contact with the first tower. “Poplarville tower. Twin Piper, November, six, niner, one, five, foxtrot. VFR, four thousand five hundred feet landing Hattiesburg. Over.”

     “Twin piper six, niner, one, five, foxtrot copy over.”

     First check point done. There weren’t going to be as many checks to towers this time. There was no need. Generally, as long as she could follow her landmarks she would be okay. She sustained her alti­tude of four thousand five hundred feet. The gods were looking down upon her, for the weather today was absolutely gorgeous. There were only some rib­bon-like, cirrus clouds in the sky. Otherwise, it was baby blue.

     As she flew, Nora thought more about what she was actually doing. She was playing the poker card game of her life. Her outcome was to regain custody of her children and her freedom. She would abso­lutely have to hook Frank into her bluff.

     Her normal exhilaration when flying was marked with fear today. She thought about the Naval ideals that Steve had taught. Honor, courage, and commit­ment. Her courage and commitment to her children were driving her actions. Well, at least she had two out of three. For there was certainly no honor in her first totally independent act as a pilot; which was now stealing a plane.

     Nora started to see dwellings increasing in num­bers and proximity. She realized she was on the out­skirts of Hattiesburg and would be flying over the city’s western edge. Pinebelt Regional was north of the city. Almost there. Just a few more moments and she would be home free.

     She made contact with Pinebelt tower when she was ten miles out. “Pinebelt tower. Twin Piper, No­vember six, niner, one, five, foxtrot. Three miles southwest, requesting permission to land.”

     “Twin piper six, niner, one, five, foxtrot clear to land runway three six.”

     Nora recognized from studying her maps that run­way three six required her to bank left when in prox­imity of the airport. She received another radio communication from the tower, “Twin Piper, niner, one. Winds are currently zero four five, at twenty-five knots, gusting to thirty-five. Clear to land runway three six.” Nora knew that meant she would be get­ting quite a bit of crosswind as she attempted to land the plane.

     It suddenly began to dawn on her the risks of this mission. If she somehow failed her landing, and crashed the plane killing herself; her children would not only be motherless, but stranded in Baton Rouge. Although these thoughts began to cross her mind in flashes, she tried to put them out of her head.

     “Come on Jack. Help me out here,” calling on her father’s spirit. He was either in heaven or hell, she re­ally wasn’t sure. She took a deep breath, put her head on straight and mentally focused on the task at hand. When she saw the airport come into view several miles out, she pulled back on the throttles and began a gen­tle descent. A few minutes later she could visually see the numbers of runway three six.

     Nora was also starting to feel the wind. It was dif­ficult to hold her course and her wings were rocking like a boat on rough seas. To maintain her heading required lots of rudder input to compensate. Unfor­tunately, she was sometimes over compensating caus­ing her to overshoot her course in the other direction. She was struggling to keep the nose up. It was going to be the landing from hell.

     In fact, it was so bad, she radioed the tower. She was dropping too much speed and couldn’t pull the nose of the plane up to stabilize. “Pinebelt tower, Piper one, five, foxtrot, going around.” She had to bail the landing.

     “Piper one, five, foxtrot, clear for the go around. You’re the only one in the area; clear to land at your discretion.”

     She pushed the throttles forward and leveled off flying just above the runway. Once she started gaining airspeed, she pulled back on the yoke and began her climb into the sky.

     Sweat was pouring from her brow. This time it was going to take more skill and concentration. She made a climbing bank to the west, leveling off at one thousand five hundred feet. She was now re-estab­lished in the traffic pattern ready to attempt another approach. “Come on Nora, you can do this. You have to do this,” she coached herself.

     Making a sign of the cross, she approached the runway again. This time she was much more aggres­sive in her rudder control to compensate for the gusting crosswind. She pointed the nose in the direc­tion of the gusts as Steve had taught her. Keeping her hands steady, she kept the nose up and lowered her speed to begin her descent. “Steady, steady,” she said. One hundred fifty, one hundred, fifty, twenty five feet. She was at the end of the runway and boom. Nora was down. Smoothly. A huge sigh of relief came over her as she lowered her speed and applied her brakes. She was here. Thank God she was here.

     Nora taxied the plane towards the hangars for gen­eral aviation. She had rented a temporary space from Grayson Aviation. The mechanic planned to meet her. Pulling the plane safely into the hangar, Nora ticked off yet another step of her strategy. Once she parked, she closed up the Piper and applied the pad lock to the outside door of the building.

     “Would you like us to hold the key for you here, Mrs. Greenwood?” the mechanic asked her.

     “No, thank you. I will hold onto them. I appreci­ate the offer, but I know the co-owner will be anxious to get them.” Nora then took off her glasses and baseball cap. It felt good to shake out her hair. De­spite it being December, it was drenched with sweat. She walked from the FBO over to the general termi­nal. It would be another hour or so before Charlene arrived, so Nora ordered a Coca-cola mixed with Or­ange Crush and took a seat in the bar to relax.

     She couldn’t help but watch the clock, wondering how Charlene was making it up Highway 11. Her friend had quite a lead foot; she hoped she wouldn’t be pulled over by the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Nora had given a detailed map to Charlene on how to find the airport.

     It was almost three o’clock and Charlene’s Caddy was nowhere to be found. Nora got up and walked outside the terminal to look for her. She didn’t want to appear like a loiterer in the terminal and she couldn’t drink too many sodas due to the baby. The caffeine and sugar was already making the baby kick incessantly.

     Nora rubbed her tummy. “I wonder if you will be born with the spirit of Jack Broussard?” she ques­tioned the life inside. Nora felt that although her re­cent actions were unlawful and bit dodgy, her father would be proud that she was a fighter.

     A flash of baby blue rounded the corner, tires screeching. Charlene! The Cadillac pulled up to the curb. “Good golly miss molly! I thought you would never get here,” a relieved Nora exclaimed.

     “Well, heck sister. I had my eyes so glued on that detailed map that I missed a damned turn with all the construction. Then, I was worried about rain, so I stopped to put the top up. God, I need a drink.”

     “No time for that, we have to get back on the road and back to Baton Rouge. Especially before we hit rush hour traffic.” At this point, it looked like they might just make it.

     “Nora Jean, I’m at least going through the Dairy Mart drive-thru to get a coke float. This girl’s gotta have some sugar. I’m plum nearly wore out.”

     “Here, move over. I’ll drive then. And yes, I’ll stop at Dairy Mart.”

     “So, how was it?” Charlene had to get all the de­tails.

     “Nerve wracking. I almost couldn’t land. But I made it. The plane is safely locked in the hangar.”

     They hugged and gave a big “yee-haw” out the windows of the Cadillac. Nora could breathe a sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to get back to her kids and call Frank. Devilish delight danced in her eyes as she imagined his face realizing his plane was gone.

Welcome Jeanette! Thanks so much for your visit today. It’s great to get this chance to find out more about you.  Tell us about your current release.

FLYING SOLO depicts the death defying adventures of French Cajun Nora Broussard Greenwood who was born with the wanderlust.  Her adventurous spirit doesn’t fit the sedate expectations of 1960s catholic New Orleans suburbia.  On a whim, she takes flying lessons to become a pilot.  Nora discovers the liberating freedom of flight, but an illicit affair with her pilot instructor complicates all.  When she confronts her ruthless husband for a divorce, Nora is temporarily grounded.  She is cast out of her home sans her children, and threatened with her life.  Desperate to regain them, she steals her husband’s plane.  Trials and tribulations erupt as she navigates the turbulence her life has become.  Desperate to regain her self esteem, post domestic violence, she survives by serving as caregiver to her lover’s sickly wife.  It was a bizarre twist of fate but part of self-preservation.  She hoping her close proximity to her paramour will cause him to fall further in love with her as his soul mate.  But is that to be?   Nora must make the most difficult decision of her life in order to get things back on track.   The realities of this tale are based on true antics.  

Did travel play in the writing of your book?

Yes.  I have travelled extensively throughout the South and New Orleans.  I know the city very well, as my mother’s family all grew up and still live there.   The sights, sounds, and foods of this eclectic Mardi Gras town are very familiar to me, thus making the story intriguing to write about. 

What do you think makes a good story?

It sounds trite, but a solid beginning, middle and end woven with richly developed characters that make you care about what happens to them.  Each scene and action should propel a story forward and make the reader salivate to find out what happens next.   

Does your significant other read your stuff?

Absolutely!   He is my first test reader and sometimes a tough critic.   I also have family members or friends close to parts of the story take a read.  It is important for my material to resonate authenticity.    I want the reader to feel that they are right there, in the moment.   No matter what time frame that happens to take place.  

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Set aside a time everyday to writer.   Express your thoughts, feelings and ideas in journals or a blog.   Hone your craft and find your style.  Don’t write what you think is the common fad.  Write about what you love.   For me, those are stories about strong, independent women who defy the norm.   I look for and generate stories about  characters that I admire, woman who made a difference.   Besides fictional character in my book, some are real life characters who are Belles of Steel in my blog at .   

Tell us about your next release.

Currently I am working on the sequel to FLYING SOLO.  Everyone who reads it can’t wait to find out what happens to Nora next.    SOLO VIETNAM is during the tuburlent late 1960s.  It takes the characters to the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive of 1968.    Everyone wants to know what happens to the lovers Nora and Steve.   They are chomping at the bits for me to finish it.   The sequel is a second book in the trilogy of the story.   The third book, TRUAMA QUEEN will finally answer all of the questions and complete the story.  I am loving writing the sequel.   I missed living within my characters.    So it is nice to embrace time with them again.  



I began my writing career as a young nurse.  My first piece, at age 21, was an article on dying with dignity for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal garnering critical acclaim.   I followed that work with several more articles for nursing journals and periodicals.  Most notably publishing in the Journal of Nursing Education with the article, “Is there really racism in nursing?”

I have served as a nurse in a  career which spans over 29 years in the areas of critical care, trauma, geriatrics and nursing education.   One of my favorite assignments was working Level I trauma in Sydney, Australia.   While completing my Master’s degree in nursing from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, I wrote  a full length screenplay entitled, “Angel of Mercy” which examines the real life journey of a hot oil truck driver of West Texas who in 1970 becomes a nurse.

 My next project was the production and scripting of a four part video series entitled, “All About Aging.”  Abbey Foster Care and Kimberly Quality Care were the corporate sponsors of this award winning educational piece on how to care for older adults.   Hospitals and clinics internationally purchased hundreds of copies and used this intriguing video series to teach their clients.

Characters that challenge the norm, thinking and acting outside the box as pioneers are what make me tick.    They are the subjects of my many forays into writing.  My two oldest boys are pilots for the Navy.  My daughter a successful manager of furniture sales.   My youngest son and I live on a sheep farm in northeast Texas.   I am always looking for the next great tale to tell.
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Enter for a chance to win a Print copy of Flying Solo.
Print giveaway is open Internationally.
Comment on this post for a bonus entry.
Follow Jeanette on  Twitter for another bonus entry.
Giveaway ends September 29th 11:59 PM Central Time.



Karielle Stephanie said...

Sounds like an intriguing read. Thank you for the giveaway!

Goldenmane said...

This sounds like an interesting read. My mother was a nurse and she was a very strong person. She was born on a farm in Wisconsin in 1903, graduated from Normal School and taught in a one-room schoolhouse in North Dakota to earn money to pay her tuition to nursing school. She married my physician father in 1929, the day the stock market crashed and was an air raid warden during World War II. I love to read about strong women because I can see my mother in all of them.


Sounds good ! :) THX ! :)


Karen Arrowood said...

This isn't the sort of book I usually read, but the excerpt got me interested. Thank you for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway! What a cute blog design!!

Adisty Sri Mulianty said...

Not really the genre I used to read, but it sound very interesting.
Thx for the giveaway!