Recently I finished Avi's book called Hard Gold. It is part of Hyperion's "I Witness" series for young readers. I noticed it in the new books at the library; it caught my eye because it is a pioneer story of a family from Iowa with "gold fever" that ends up in Colorado. They go by wagon train through the states to the territories out west.
I love this time period and, of course, the location. In the summer of '07, we went to the Buena Vista, Colo. area and went on this awesome jeep tour of the Collegiate Peaks. It was such fun! We bumped up the dirt paths above treeline to a spot where our guide showed us a rock patch where there were quartz crystals. Nearby we saw the ruins of a log cabin. The walls were only about two-logs high and grass grew inside the cabin. We wandered around the area and found broken china and light green and lavender glass that dated back to the late 19th century. To find "artifacts" from the days when the miners lived in log cabins on the side of the mountain inspired me to think about how I could turn that into my own story.
And in those couple of days near Buena Vista, I thought of a complete plot to a novel. After reading Avi's novel, I was reminded of the story I wanted to write a year and a half ago. I wrote another scene last weekend--the ending as a matter of fact--and then found a bunch of books at the library on the gold rush era. We'll see how it comes along.