Except. Gulp. This time I'm starting three of them. It can't be helped. They are all whispering to me and the time to get the words into place is NOW.
The one I want to talk about today doesn't have a title yet. As I've worked on the research over the past few years, I've just called it "the Lyndonville (Vermont) mystery." But a few weeks ago the main character suddenly waltzed into my life and I had to start ... her name is Almyra, and she's 16, in November of 1899, in East St. Johnsbury, Vermont. And yes, the action up ahead will take place in Lyndonville.
People often ask about a writer's "process." Mine has less to do with what time of day I write, and more to do with how I prepare. I do literally years of historical research. Part of the background of Almyra's story is this information sifted from the 1910 version of Walton's Vermont Register:
In Lyndon, millinery, Mrs. E. M. Swett; in Lyndon Center, none; in Lyndonville, tailor, J. C. Stevens; clothing and gents' furnishings, S. Stern; millinery, Mrs. E. Bigelow, Mrs. F. J. Willey, Mrs. H. Duston, Mrs. W. Barber.But I also prepare in "five or six senses," and this time one of the necessary elements is a necklace of amber beads. Amber isn't a stone -- it's a fossilized resin. And amber comes particularly from the Baltic (those now-reappearing nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia -- which have sometimes been part of Russia), but there is also a noted deposit of amber in Kansas, the state where so many pro-Abolition Vermonters made their homes in the mid 1800s to try to sway the new territory toward becoming a "free state."
So, here I am, happily at work, with an amber necklace in place. I love the variety of colors in it. Even more, I am enjoying knowing the role that amber will play in Almyra's story.
Last bit of process: I've purchased paperback copies of two books (well, one is a 10-book series, repackaged in one volume) that I enjoyed reading years ago, and in their titles is the word "Amber."
CONTEST!! To the first person who can correctly guess BOTH the book titles (for the series, you can either name the first book OR the series, but you have to also name the other book), and place them here as a comment, I will mail a signed copy of my most recent mystery, Cold Midnight. Looking forward to your replies.