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Sandwich woman publishes her first novel

Published: Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

SANDWICH — Is it s romance or not?

Like any good author, Margaret Rabenau Wright won’t reveal the ending of her first novel, “Pursuit of the Nightingale.”

The story centers on Lt. Andrew Richards, who is wounded during World War II and becomes a patient in an enemy field hospital, tended to by a German nurse who doesn't speak English. Following the war, Richards decides to return to Germany to find the nurse he only knows by the nickname the U.S. solders gave her.

“If he finds her, it’s a romance,” Wright said mischievously. “If he doesn’t, then it’s heartache.”

Wright, who has lived in Sandwich the past four years, grew up in Galesburg where she went to Knox College. Originally, she intended to be a music major, but decided to switch to nursing after her first year.

“You had to be tall, skinny and good-looking,” she joked.

For years, she worked at St. Joseph Hospital in Belvidere before being promoted to director of in-service education. As part of her duties, she began writing manuals for hospital personnel. She also had articles published in various national nursing magazines.

“At a small hospital, you do a little bit of everything,” she said.

After retiring 20 years ago, she said the idea for the story just came to her, which wasn’t based on anything she had heard or experienced. Getting the book published, which took about a year to write in 2010, may have been the hardest part of the whole process.

For one thing, she said, no one accepts stories on paper anymore.

“I had to write 80,000 words on a flash disc,” she said.

The next hurdle was finding someone who was interested.

“No one in America would read it,” she said. “No one would even open the package. They weren’t interested in anyone new. I just got form (rejection) letters.”

Eventually, she found a publisher on the Internet, based in Canada, Friese Press, which agreed to publish the book. After three rewrites and some other changes, “Pursuit of a Nightingale” was published in July.

Copies of the book, if purchased from Wright directly, cost $15 for hardcover and $10 for paperback, plus postage and handling. She will sign all the books. They can be purchased at: pursuitofanightingale@yahoo.com.

It costs more, she said, if you get it in a bookstore or online.

“I’m not trying to make any money from it,” Wright said. “I just want to get it distributed.”

She will host a book signing at Barnes & Noble in DeKalb from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 6.

Ironically, none of this may have happened if it wasn’t for some bad luck.

For years, Wright ran the “Wright Place” antique store in Hinckley, which burned down a few years ago.

“If it wasn't for that fire, I’d probably still be there,” she said.

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