Long Beach author Romalyn Tilghman will see her first novel available for purchase on April 4. 

The novel, "To The Starts Through Difficulties," will feature three female protagonists and their research and discovery through the Carnegie libraries in Kansas. 

The author — who is originally from Kansas — said that the idea for her novel started with her admiration for the 59 Carnegie libraries built in Kansas in the 20th Century.

But before the novel was even an idea, Tilghman attended the University of Kansas for her B.A. in humanities and returned for her M.S. in journalism.

Her educational success lead her to accept a role as the executive director of the Association of Community Arts Councils of Kansas. There she said that she was able to work with rural arts organizations and see first-hand the influence that women have had on art culture in the Plains.

The "Plains" refers to rural communities of Kansas. These areas are usually populated by small, remote communities that may not have easy access to arts and pop culture, according to Tilghman.

Her career moved her to the National Endowment for the Arts as a regional representative. There she continued to dedicate herself to community outreach through the arts.

While working in Kansas, she helped create a package of post cards featuring contemporary art — just one of the mediums she used to make artwork available to rural communities.

Her work as an art advocate helped inspire the idea for her novel, which was years in the making.

"I've been carrying notes around for the novel for a very long time," she said. "Maybe even as far back as 20 years."

And women currently involved in art outreach, and those who have been historically involved in the arts — but may not have been credited for their work — are her muse for the novel.

"I started to imagine what it would be like to have built these places (Carnegie libraries)," Tilghman said. "It takes a lot of smarts — a lot of commitment."

She added that the libraries used to be a community's only source for entertainment and learning material.

Tilghman visited Long Beach throughout the years for work functions, and eventually made the move with some encouragement from a close friend.

"For a Kansas girl, it (Long Beach) was pretty exotic," she said. "I love the Long Beach area."

While living in Long Beach, Tilghman picked up freelance work full time with an emphasis on strategic planning and consulting. She served on the boards of Americans for the Arts, Association of California Symphony Orchestras, and Western Arts Alliance.

And although she is residing in sunny California, she says she's still a Kansas girl at heart.

The name of her novel is derived from the Kansas motto "Ad Astra Per Aspera," which is translated to "To The Starts Through Difficulties."

But after she moved, she continued to work on her novel and signed up for writing workshops and literature classes at UCLA.

She added that Long Beach had its own Carnegie Library, which was erected in 1903 and demolished in 1973 due to fire damage.

After years of studying, writing, and editing, her novel is finally ready for the public. The book is available for preorder on Amazon.com or at any bookstore.

The story may have been a long work in progress, but she said she is excited to finally see her book on sale for the public. 

Tilghman will host a book signing at 7 p.m. on April 6 at Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.

For more information visit Romalyn.com.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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