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, August 16, 2011

Fiction and History in the Classroom

An unusual view of Stamford, New York.
While I'm revising The Long Shadow and Cold Midnight, and writing a first draft of another book, I'm also counting down the days until THE SECRET ROOM is released, on 9-10-11 (I love that date! perfect for number lovers everywhere).

Because Shawna and Thea explore a mystery with roots in their town's history, the publisher (Janis and Neil at Voyage) and I have been corresponding with teachers about using this book in the classroom.

Here's a Middle Grades suggestion from Candice Gockel in Stamford, NY, a 5th/6th grade teacher: "I see this novel as a great jumping off point for a local history project. I think my students would be swept up in the excitement of possibly uncovering local mysteries, as well as providing great hands-on research and learning opportunities for my students."

I took a quick look and found a history of Stamford -- whose early settlers had ties to Stamford, Connecticut.  There are some intriguing gaps in the history I found: enlistment for the Civil War, but what was happening in town during the Underground Railroad years? Why was the first newspaper founded in 1851? I can imagine a mystery taking place that relied on who was publishing the paper and what his motives were! And another that takes into account the villages of the town, the differences between them, the way families settled. Plus, because the town is in the Catskills, there must be stories of the tourists and summer residents, including some from various ethnic groups that could be surprising. Wow!

If you're looking for possible "local mysteries" for your class to investigate, let me know where you are and I'll suggest some possible "mysteries in history" for your students.  Same offer for book groups -- tell me where you are, and I'll "investigate" and report!

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