Raising Rufus: A Maine Love Story

Available directly from Weiala Press or on www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com

A Maine Love Story

Adobe Photoshop PDF

A Novel by Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold

Paper, perfect bound, 131 pp.  $17.95  Second Printing

ISBN 978-0–997-1898-0-3

A love story for the ages, the beautiful vistas of Maine and a boisterous Newfoundland puppy named Rufus – who could ask for a better tale?  – Newfoundland Club of America, April 2012 Newsletter

Raising Rufus: A Maine Love Story by Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold is a tender and tragic love story about an older couple, their Newfoundland dog, and their passion for the coast of Maine.  A romantic drama with a live action animal subplot, Raising Rufus is the tale of Gus and Maria Sundergaard, who realize their dream of building their retirement home in Midcoast Maine.  Though deeply devoted to each other, their forty-year marriage has been sometimes plagued by demons and discord and by secrets hidden deep in Gus’ heart.  Childless, they adopt a Newfoundland puppy, Rufus, and embark on a series of hilarious and heartwarming adventures together.  Discovering Rufus’ extraordinary talent for water rescue, Gus and Maria train and compete with their dog at the national breed water trials, where Rufus becomes a true hero when he rescues Gus, who suffers a heart attack in the midst of the competition.  Though tragedy looms ahead, Rufus helps to heal his family, celebrating with them a renewed love for each other and for the place they call their home.  Written after the sudden death of the author’s husband of forty years, this poignant novel will speak to anyone who has ever loved and lost a soul mate, to readers who cherish the bond between man and dog, and to all those captivated by Maine’s rugged beauty.

The story unfolds with a beautiful and poetic lyricism.  
– Albert H. Black, playwright (Boot Camp & other plays)

A seamless novella evoking the woods and sea of Maine, the bond between a dog and his humans, and the happy and tragic scenes of a long and loving marriage.
–  Donna Puccini, poet, (To Sip Darjeeling Tea & other volumes)
Self Publishing Review  1/10/12
****Raising Rufus: A Maine Love Story by Carla Maria Verdino-Sullwold is about a couple in their sixties who choose to leave their hectic lives behind in New York to live in their dream retirement home in Maine along the coast.  Gus and Maria Sundergaard have survived forty years of marriage and their relationship has been full of love and devotion.  However, Gus has kept a couple of secrets that cause discord in the relationship and Maria senses that there are issues but is fearful to push for answers.  To complicate matters, Gus struggles with depression, which frightens Maria.

The couple never had children and when they settle into their new home in Maine they adopt Rufus, a Newfoundland puppy that is boisterous and full of love.  Once they learn that Rufus loves the ocean the couple decides to train Rufus to become a water rescue dog.  The raising and training of Rufus brings the couple closer to each other.  Not only do they start to air out their problems, but their love for each other is reinforced.   People who have been in a relationship will be able to relate too many of the couple’s issues.  Marriage is not always easy, but Gus and Maria’s story shows just how rewarding a relationship can be as long as both people are willing to work at it.

The writer’s use of flashbacks helps aid the reader to understand the complexities of the couple’s relationship.  And as you read more about the couple’s past you begin to understand how they reached the point they are at and the motivations for the move to Maine and the adoption of Rufus.

Verdino-Sullwold wrote this touching novel after her husband of forty years died suddenly.  If you have ever suffered the loss of your soul mate and best friend, this story will touch your heart.  And many readers will fall in love with the adorable Rufus.

As I read the novel, I realized that the author has a love for the English language.  I suggest having a dictionary close by.  This is not to say that her writing is pretentious.  In fact, her writing is beautiful and poetic at times.  As I read the first sentence, “A ribbon of undulating cerulean divides sky and land” I thought I was in for a tough read.  Instead I fell in love with her descriptions of Maine and I pictured myself frolicking on the beach with the couple and Rufus.  For those who have been to Maine, this tale will make you miss the landscape.  And for those who have never been, you’ll want to visit by the time you finish the novel.

The novel is only 134 pages long, so instead of being immersed in Gus and Maria’s story you are given glimpses into their lives.  At times I wanted to know more and to feel more.  However, given that this novel was written soon after Verdino-Sullwold husband’s death, giving more might have been too painful.  This begs the question, will the author explore this subject again.  If she does, I would love to read it.  I give the book four out of five stars.


Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold was awarded the GRAND Prize in the Rhode Island International Film Screenplay Competition for 2011.  The screenplay, Raising Rufus: A Maine Love Story will be the focus of the screenplay component of RIFF’s August 2012 Festival in Providence, RI. The press releases are attached.  Ms. Verdino-Süllwold is now represented by Matthew Valentinas Law, who is helping to develop the script for submission to the TV and film industry.

…. 364 submissions received from throughout the United States and across the globe(PROVIDENCE, RI) • Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold from Brunswick, Maine was the Grand Prize Winner for this year’s 2011 FLICKERS: Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) Screenplay Competition. The awards announcement was made Tuesday by George T. Marshall, RIIFF Executive Director. The winning screenplay “Raising Rufus: A Maine Love Story” is a tender and tragic love story about a childless older couple, their Newfoundland dog, and their passion for the coast of Maine. After forty years of a devoted, but troubled marriage, they adopt Rufus and embark on a series of heartwarming, heroic and ultimately healing adventures.

“This screenplay is something that should be made. Reading it, you can literally envision the actual film,” said J. Scott Oberacker, RIIFF Educational Outreach Director.
“The outstanding quality of this year’s submissions and the level of creativity, made for difficult decision-making on the part of our international group of judges,” added Oberacker. “Our adjudication team read 364 screenplay entries this year, the largest entry base in the competition’s history. Each submission was analyzed and scored according to a set of criteria, including Character, Dialogue, Setting, Plot and Technique.

“After extensive reading and deliberation among the judges, prizewinners were chosen in five different categories: Main Competition, Gay and Lesbian (GLBT), Local (New England) Focus, Horror, and Short Screenplay,” she added. “Each will come with its own set of awards.”

“We could not be more pleased with the selection of this year’s winners,” noted George T. Marshall. “As this competition continues to grow and expand, we have access to some of the world’s brightest and most talented writers in the craft.”

PORTLAND PRESS HERALD  Friday, November 4, 2011

Maine woman wins R.I. screenplay competitionThe Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Maine woman has won the Rhode Island International Film Festival screenplay competition with a story about a childless older couple and their adopted Newfoundland dog.

The screenplay “Raising Rufus: A Maine Love Story” by Carla Maria Verdino-Sullwold of Brunswick was selected as the winner in the main competition category. The Flickers film festival calls it a tender, tragic story about a couple in a troubled marriage of 40 years who adopt a dog named Rufus and set out on a series of adventures that help them heal.
Winners were also chosen from among the 364 entries in several other categories, including New England Focus, Horror, and Gay and Lesbian. Officials said the number of screenplays entered was the largest in the competition’s history.


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