In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Research Via Postcards

I was excited to purchase a hand-drawn tinted postcard last week that showed the YMCA Building in St. Johnsbury (Vermont) -- a building I've never seen, because it was destroyed by fire. When I first started paying attention to downtown fires, I thought the downtowns full of brick structures were safe. After all, you can't light a brick very well, can you?

But it turns out that brick buildings burn most often from the inside. After all, they are lined with wooden structures, which in turn are lined with wood and plaster walls. Many of the "stone" structures have the same susceptibility to fire. In the mystery I'm now writing, Cold Midnight, there's a cathedral-like church in town called Notre Dame des Victoires; in the 1900s, that was where the French-Canadian Catholics attended Mass ("Irish" and other "English-speaking" Catholics went to St. Aloysius). Notre Dame des Victoires was set on fire by an altarboy who placed a burning candle inside the wooden wall structure.

The color photo postcard here is taken at the top of Eastern Avenue, and I think the ornate architecture of the YMCA building shows over to the right; the building in the center of the card is the one where a lot of the action in Cold Midnight takes place -- on the roof!

This first black-and-white postcard is the Avenue House, which became the New Avenue House when rebuilt after a fire -- it was the closest hotel to the railroad depot. And now it's called Depot Square Apartments instead.

Last but not least, I was pleased to find today a postcard image of the Woman's Club home on Cherry Street. The St. Johnsbury Woman's Club was the group that invited "Mrs. General Custer" -- that is, Elizabeth (Libbie) Clift Bacon Custer -- to speak in town. A separate research project on the town's habit of inviting exciting speakers (1871-1901 in this case) can be found at with many more photos from various sources.

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