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?

Monday, December 26, 2011

History Mysteries for Delray Beach, Florida

courtesy of Jeremy.Wilburn
I'm warming up to a revision of one manuscript and three other novels I plan to write -- two of them with first chapters already written.

Meanwhile, though, I recently offered to find "history mystery" possibilities for a classroom teacher in Delray Beach, Florida (if you're a teacher and would like to know more about history mysteries, please do check our teacher Facebook site -- ask to join and I'll "click" you into it: http://www.facebook.com/groups/198457003547529). And here's some of what I came up with:
History mysteries for Delray Beach -- Wow,  I am so excited about this town's history! There could be at least a dozen fascinating plots woven from what I've seen already. (1) For instance, until 1845, the area's residents were Africans, Seminole Native Americans, and Black Seminoles -- can you imagine a journey into history by looking for evidence of each group? What were the similarities, differences, conflicts? If there are no records of that time, what does that mean in terms of how we value our history? (2) There are military maps of the peninsula of Florida dating from the 1850s and the Seminole Wars. There's a haulover (a portage location for boats), "Orange Grover Haulover." I would love to learn more about the Seminole Wars and set a mystery at this haulover. Who could leave messages there? What would they say? (3) A haven for the shipwrecked called the Orange Grove House of Refuge #3 was built in 1876 by the U.S. Lifesaving Service. The first refuge-keeper (like a lighthouse keeper, for you Yankees reading along) was Hannibal D. Pierce. If a story were called "Meeting Hannibal," what would happen to the young person narrating the story? There must have been pirates and navy heroes and clever craftsmen among the people living at the refuge! (4) When Henry Flagler was building railroads to connect all of Florida (1885), he bought a lot of land in the Delray Beach area. Many workers on the railroad were African Americans. Imagine their experience of the Civil War and the hopes and dreams they brought to the area when they came to work on the railroad. I am now picturing eighth-grade-age kids who make choices based on their parents' tales of war and railroad -- what arrives hidden among the railroad cars? Who slips in and out of town, bringing messages? The story is growing! (5) The Intercoastal Waterway dates to 1890 in Delray Beach -- can you trace how it's been used for recreation? For commerce? For smuggling? (6) The first school in town (the town was Linton then) in 1894 was established by African-Americans and was a "pioneer school" probably built with palm fronds. I "hear" a mystery that involves someone who wants to be in the school but can't, and who has a pet, and isn't afraid of snakes or palm bugs ... (7) Why did Adolf Hofman come to town in 1895 and what kind of farming did he set up in Delray Beach? I bet his family had a hard time during World War II -- can you explain why? There could be a mystery of messages, heroism, and danger. (8) Who was Mary Cohen and how did she become a midwife? In 1896, I would have wanted to know her! Does her last name mean she had some connections to Jewish heritage? What resources did she have? Picture a mystery about two babies born on the same day, and how she copes with it, and how the families get tangled and maybe give back something in terms of helping save "Auntie" Cohen from danger! (9) I want to know more about the Yamamoto agriculture colony, with all Japanese men at first (brought by Henry Flagler), then wives, children, a school ... what happened to the people from this 1904 group, when World War II arrived? I am picturing a mystery that involves a friendship among three kids of various ancestry, trying to figure out how to make things better for the ones who are Japanese. 
See why I think this could be the perfect place for history mysteries?? In case you need more info, there's a brand new book of photos of Delray Beach history, too, and here's an article about a time capsule -- don't you get the urge to make a time capsule with your class? http://www.palmbeachpost.com/community-post/delray-beach-historical-society-archivist-finds-long-forgotten-1973156.html

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