So far I've:
- researched some of the more famous antebellum homes in the South
- researched the architecture (Greek Revival, Federal, Italianate) styles
- sent for a (used) book, Plantation Houses and Mansions of the Old South
- checked out from the local library A Remembrance of Eden: Harriet Bailey Bullock Daniel's Memories of a Frontier Plantation in Arkansas, 1849-1872, as well as Volume 4 of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (Myth, Manners, & Memory)
- discovered that Camden, AR, about 3 hours south of here, has a rich Civil War history and several antebellum homes open for public tours...there's a trip in my future after the new year!
I have the plot sketched out--emphasis on sketched--and the characters named and infused with some life (of which there needs to be more). As usual, a title has not even drifted onto the horizon. The basic plot, of course, must revolve around a blue diamond. I hope to write a contemporary suspense/romance with travels back in time to the antebellum world of the characters' ancestors.
Just doing the research and learning new things is challenging and exciting. Some famous figure (I've forgotten who) said to "Learn something new everyday." That seems particularly important as one gets older. I watched my paternal grandfather and then my father simply sit and wait to die. That seems a harsh judgment, but it is, unfortunately, factual. For both of them, it was a long wait as the years slipped by, each day the same as the last. My maternal grandfather viewed each new day as an adventure waiting to be experienced--until he died at the age of 96.
I don't know exactly where the plot is going or how it's going to get there--but I'm convinced it's going to be a thrilling journey, especially for me.