Sunday, October 27, 2013

Christina's House

I have been forming a Gables and Gingerbread series in my mind for several years. I loved the house I grew up in. I hardly ever saw another house quite like it. I began my home health job in Ohio and then houses similar in design seemed to pop up in Trumbull County. One on Five Points Road, Hartford, set in the country set my mind to thinking. I traveled north and saw one without the gingerbread. These houses pricked my imagination, as I wondered about the people who built them.
I looked up some ideas on the internet and found Andrew Jackson Downing and the almost religion of designing these "cottages." His life alone would make a great story, but that is not where these stories grew, yet.
My first one that I am polishing for publication is Main Street. This is my prove it-I-can-write-a-novel that I started writing in the lonely hours when no one was looking, my secret, I-don't-want -anyone-to-laugh-at-me. I am quite proud of it and cannot wait for others to read it, but some bumps in the road of publishing keep it from view, yet. I have some hopes to have it traditionally published.
A house on Ohio State 193, south of Fowler, intrigued me. I started forming a second story around it. I would plan my routes so I could look at this house for inspiration. I sneak up from behind, placing horse stables and a barn there. I could see the main character horseback riding. I could see the angry clouds from the first scene. I developed it more from a vague idea to a theme with no plot.
I started writing it two years ago for NaNoWriMo. Stories begin with some grains of truth that we cover and coat until we have a pearl of a story, we hope. I formed this story around the house and made it loosely set on my Grandmother Evans and her sister, Jim, as the grain. They grew up on a farm in the rolling country of Mercer County, not flat Trumbull County, but Aunt Jim did settle, raise five children across the border in this area.
A couple Sundays ago as we drove home from Cortland, Ohio, I asked David to keep driving down 193 to go past Christina's house, as I came to call it. He had been bugging me about getting a quilt repaired and I said, "Well, this house I'm setting my story in also has a quilt shop."
In true Lyon fashion, David investigated the site on the internet, and then, so did I. The owner used her grandmothers' names to call her shop, Olive Grace. Olive Turner was one of her grandmothers. Olive Turner was Aunt Jim's daughter. She was a little younger than my mother because the sisters, Hazel and Jim, used their mother's name for their daughters. Mom got Mary, as she was born first.
So the story I have been building and having some trouble finding direction is set in a house owned by the grandson of my lead character, of sorts. I have been admiring this house for years, scanning it from the north, south, east and west. I hesitated to stop in the quilt shop always "too busy." I moaned I couldn't do the house tour the Saturday after Thanksgiving because I was three hours away in Emporium.
But now, they are relatives and this week, I'm taking the twenty minute ride over to meet my cousins. This was one of the great things that happened two weeks ago. The other was I was accepted to guest post for my blogger friend, Anita Mathias. Alas, the cottage in Cornwall she is visiting does not have internet or it would have posted this weekend. I will keep you informed.


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