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?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"The silence woke her." New Book in Progress! And a Contest!!!

It's that time of year. Snow filters onto the back field. Birds visit the feeders. Deer leave tracks at night. And I start a new book.

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.

6 comments:

Nola from EVA said...

You gave away the first one: "The Chronicles of Amber" by Roger Zelazny, starting with "Nine Princes in Amber" @ 1970. Hmmm, could the second one be "The Amber Spyglass" by Philip Pullman @2000 ???

Beth Kanell said...

Good try, Nola! I'm glad you have the first one (both the book and the series titles -- way to go). The Philip Pullman book is a nice suggestion, but it wasn't what I chose (I disagree deeply with some of his plot choices). Here's a hint: The other one is a romance with a bit of Scotland involved, but it also has elements of time travel. Isn't "snow season" a great time for reading those oldies?

Nola from EVA said...

So Beth, my next guess for the second one is "Dragonfly in Amber" @1993 by Diana Gabaldon. I have not read it, but sounds like a good one! Especially since Caledonia means "new Scotland" or home-away-from-home for some of its settlers!

Beth Kanell said...

Nola, you've got the second title, and indeed another reason for re-reading the book, for me. I find a need to stash my inner "writing kitchen" with ingredients that might be used in the book as it moves into pages and chapters. Do you already have a copy of COLD MIDNIGHT? (I suspect you do.) How about THE SECRET ROOM?

Nola from EVA said...

I do already have copies of all your books. (I might still need you to sign one or 2 of them) But perhaps a piece of the chocolate butternut cake would serve as a prize when the history group meets? In the meantime, I'll check out "Dragonfly in Amber" from the Athenaeum!

Beth Kanell said...

Oh, those butternuts! I'm thinking February or March, Nola, but it will be worth waiting for. Hope you enjoy Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber!