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, February 12, 2018

Lincoln's Birthday ... and Thaddeus Stevens on My Mind

"President's Day" is still a week away, but today, February 12, is the date that is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. When I was growing up, schools celebrated it -- not as a day off, but as a day to pay attention.

Today in our era marked by harsh political conflict and skyrocketing awareness of the way America's centuries of enslavement have injured our people, it's a good day for learning more about our past and choosing ways to make the present and future better, I believe.

So I paused this morning to check what Abraham Lincoln was doing in 1850, the year when my "Winds of Freedom" series opens with the book The Long Shadow (publication date April 18, 2018). In that year, Lincoln was still practicing law in Springfield, Illinois, where he took on quite a few transportation cases. He also gained a patent of his own for a boating invention. He'd already served one term as a legislator, and opposed the land grab of the Mexican-American war; that war ended two years earlier, marking his first contribution to national affairs. He wouldn't speak out again until 1854.

But in 1850, an ardent freedom fighter from Vermont, transplanted to Pennsylvania, took a powerful stance in Congress to oppose slavery. That voice came from Thaddeus Stevens, and it echoes many others, especially the voices of America's Quakers, who pointed bluntly to the evil of humans being "owned" by others. "Chattel slavery," they spoke of -- "chattel" refers to personal property, and unlike, say, indentured servants, chattel slaves could be transferred by will or by bill of sale.

Yes, you'll find actions by Thaddeus Stevens influencing Vermont village life in The Long Shadow. Importantly, the choices taking place in this book are made by women who choose to take action -- protagonist Alice Sanborn, her best friend Jerusha, and their younger and very dear friend Sarah, with her dark skin and desperate longing for her family, still enslaved but with hope of purchasing their freedom. And Miss Ruth Farrow and the Mero family -- historically "real" Black Americans who lived in my part of Vermont in 1850.

Each of us has something to contribute to making the world a more just and valued place to live. For me, it's speaking of how things really were in 1850 -- here in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where reading the words of Thaddeus Stevens gave a fierce and upright example.

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