MFA Update: Research Appt. Booked

I got in touch with the curator at Fort Ticonderoga, because I want to conduct some research there, and set up an appointment for my trip next month. He asked me to look through the online manuscript catalogue–which I estimate at being 1,000 cards in size–to see what I might want to view.

I whittled it down to a list 89-strong.

I’m going to become a member because I believe in supporting museums whenever and however possible, and because I anticipate that one research trip will not be enough. I haven’t even gotten my eyes on their card catalogue for books yet–that’s not digitized.

So my plan is to look through that when I get there, and then spend the rest of the time reading as many of those 89 manuscripts as I can. I made a spreadsheet of them so I can track which ones I view. That’ll make it easier when I go back to the fort. I’ll probably try to get there in the autumn, since travel to upstate NY can be annoying in the winter and I won’t likely want to wait until spring.

I could try to shuffle some things around and go up a day early to get more research time in but I’m hesitant because the play I’m in is the weekend before my trip. I wouldn’t mind a day off in between performing and taking a four-hour drive.

I also have to see what resources my local libraries have. I should do that before I go to Ticonderoga, to make the most out of that trip. I’m looking forward to wandering around the fort, too. I’ve been through the area but never to the fort itself.

I have to say, I was impressed with the manuscript catalogue, which ranges in time from the 17th century through the 20th.

Behind the Scenes: Deleted Scene

This is part of a scene from an old version of a chapter of my novel. I like the conflict between James and Zaddock, but after this semester’s experiments with my tone, style, voice, and structure, the writing feels so stiff to me. I might grab a few descriptions to reuse, but for the most part, this scene will likely remain deleted.

Two days later, the bell rang from the lookout again. I was in the stables when I heard the chimes fill the air. The horses here were majestic creatures. Abner’s own reminded me of Katherine for they were both Thoroughbreds, but Abner’s horse—called Barnaby—was different from the mild-mannered mare of my childhood. He was younger, and far more spirited. But he had the same white star pattern between his eyes that Katherine had. My father had said it reminded him of a jewel, so that’s why he named her after the queen of one hundred years ago.

Barnaby nuzzled my palm and I pat that star before leaving the stables. The lookout was on the armory, which made sense as the two long guns were perched on the lookout deck. I wasn’t technically supposed to be in the armory without permission, but my curiosity got the better of me; I wanted to see what the bell was for. I slipped inside, spotting a trio of soldiers in the midst of the room. At the moment, all of their backs were turned so I took the stairs two at a time, and almost ran into Gibbons at the top. 

“Oh, pardon me.”

“Mr. Stanworth,” he greeted with a tilt of his head. “Weren’t you supposed to stay out of the armory?” He was smiling. I was certain he recalled giving me a brief overview of the fort and it’d been he who issued that decree.

“Was I? My apologies if that’s so. You can search me if you must.”

Gibbons cocked his head to the side, and it looked like he was chewing on his cheek. “No,” he decided finally. “I trust you. I imagine you’re looking for the Lieutenant?”

I nodded. Gibbons pointed toward the door across the landing. “He’s out on the lookout with the Captain.”

I thanked him and walked past him but then stopped. “Mr. Gibbons?” When he turned from the top step, I asked, “What do you think of the Captain?”

His smile fell from his face. “Doesn’t really matter, does it? What I think? He outranks me, so I do as told, Mr. Stanworth, sir.”

“I see. Thank you.” 

Gibbons nodded and went on his way. I pulled open the door to the lookout and stepped outside. Up here, the wind curled up from the river and smacked my face. The cold made my nose tingle for a moment until it started to feel stiff and numb, even when I tried to wiggle it. I watched the tip, but what I saw didn’t connect to what I felt.

“What’re you doing up here?” Zadock demanded. 

Not my captain. “I heard the bells.”

“You are not a military man. You shouldn’t be up here.” 

Abner shook his head. “It’s alright, James. See that?” He pointed toward the river. 

“Damn Dutch,” Zadock grumbled.

“Is there no one you don’t hate?” I asked the Captain, who turned and thrust his stubby fingers into my chest. 

“I don’t hate the English. Our own kind.”

“All evidence to the contrary,” I answered, pushing his hand away.

Behind the Scenes: Ivy & Trees Snippet

This is from an older version of a chapter, though I might take pieces of it for the draft I’m working on now.

I tug at the collar of my doublet and glance at the clock on the mantelpiece. The carvings that encase the clock look like swirls of ivy. The only problem with that is that ivy doesn’t really swirl. It crawls. Its leaves lie flat, though sometimes the plant itself will wind its way around a tree and choke the life out of it, sending tendrils of roots seeking any available entrance to the trunk through scales of bark. Floorboards creak from the next room, beyond a door that sweeps open. 

My father’s home was filled with ornately-carved clocks, mantelpieces, and doorways. It’d been built one hundred years before I was born. Around my father’s property stood a forest: tall and sturdy like a colonnade. The forest was off-limits. Not because there might be criminals or because I might have fallen out of a tree, but because of evil. My father was convinced, and my brother with him, that evil lurked beyond the sentries of sessile oaks and conifers.