Will the world end tomorrow, as a Mayan calendar seems to suggest? Somehow, I doubt it. Oh, it will for some, I suppose, either literally or figuratively. But will the whole world suddenly go poof? Nah! there's still too much left undone, at least in a writer's world.
I plan to spend much of the coming year promoting my latest book, The Road to Frogmore: Turning Slaves into Citizens. Experience has taught me that publication is no guarantee of sales. Most books sit on the store shelves for months, if not years, before the reading public discovers them. My Beyond All Price, for example, sold almost no copies online for an entire year. Then some unidentified quirk on an Amazon page sent to spiraling to the top of the best-seller list in its categories, and it's been selling steadily ever since. So I'll be talking about the new Laura Towne story -- poking, suggesting, prodding, and plugging away -- waiting for the book to catch on.
I'll also be writing. That's the thing about writers. We're never satisfied or finished. As soon as a new book comes out, friends and family members ask the same predictable question: "What's next?" And for most writers, the answer is already shaping itself in the imagination. Is it an addiction? Possibly. Is there a cure? Only the Mayans can answer that one.
My next project has not made it to paper or computer file yet, but it has a tentative title -- The Melodeon. And I suspect that I'd better stop right there and define the term, since it's not in most 21st-century vocabularies. I had to look it up myself when I first encountered it in my research. And much to my relief, It turned out NOT to be an accordion.
No, my melodeon is a nineteenth-century musical instrument -- one that was quite popular during the Civil War because of its ability to be picked up and carried from place to place. It was a keyboard and reed instrument, sounding rather like a small organ when played skillfully, and sometimes, in the hands of an amateur, sounding more like a scalded cat. The player sat on a stool in front of a small keyboard and pumped a bellows with the right foot to produce the sounds.
Here's how one might have looked and sounded (although you'll need to disregard the heavy pedestal legs on this restored example.)