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, April 2, 2012

Birth Certificates, Farm Locations, Single Parenting, and More

http://www.ancestry.com/1940-census
This is a quick bonus post, to accompany today's release of 1940s-era material by Ancestry.com -- which is where I generally go to find the documents that can confirm or reject a picture I'm forming of a particular time in US history. Today I took a look at that collection's Census enumeration maps, to see how they might fit into my search for "Little River Farm," where I think my mother lived in the 1940s.

Most of the time when I'm using this website, though, it's for work on novels that are just coming together in my planning: I have one in mind that's set in the late 1800s on Cape Cod, as the whaling industry waned. It goes with a woman whose life I know the outlines of: married to a whaling man, widowed in her early 20s while expecting her second child, then starting her own business, which (in real life!) would grow to one of the largest in Provincetown. This isn't even on my "wall maps" in my writing room yet (three or four other books are getting written before then!), but I'm filling files with the documents that go with the story. And the new 1940s-era material will help with the second half of the novel.

So much for the notion that writers "just imagine" their stories! Some do ... but for me, the process usually begins with a real moment in time, and a few people whose life decisions at that moment fascinate me.

PS: From the Ancestry folks:
 The National Archives and Records Administration will open the 1940 U.S. Federal Census on April 2, 2012—the first time this collection will be made available to the public. Once we receive the census, we will begin uploading census images to our site so the public can browse them. Initially, this collection will be what we call a browse-only collection. This means a person can scroll through the pages of the census districts much like you would look at a microfilm or a book. At the same time, we will be working behind the scenes to create an index of the census that will eventually allow people to search for their family members by name as they currently can with all other censuses on Ancestry.com. Note also that the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be accessible free of charge throughout 2012 on Ancestry.com.

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