I’m at the beginning stages of a new novel project. If you follow my blog or Facebook page at all, you already know that I am hard at work on the sequel to Champion Chocolatier. And while I don’t want to give away too much info… I am willing to share that in this book Emmy will travel to North Carolina and gets to spend time at the Biltmore Estates – the largest privately-owned home in the United States.
Seriously, this place is AMAZING. The 175,000 square foot mansion boasts 250 rooms, and sits on 8,000 acres. Inside you can find 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool, a library containing 20,000 books and the first ever residential bowling alley. On the extensive grounds of this century old estate you can also find a conservatory, barn, winery and a variety of shops that sell their wares to more than one million guests who visit this historic landmark each year.
But unlike Glensheen Mansion, which I feature in the first Champion Chocolatier, I haven’t been to the Biltmore Estates. Heck, I haven’t even been to North Carolina! My family and I are currently saving our extra pennies for a Disney vacation. Even though my husband and I could probably figure out a way to escape for a long weekend to explore this American palace first hand, the family budget just doesn’t have room for this excursion right now.
So, what’s an author to do?
My first attempts to find information about the Biltmore Estate took me to the library. It was a dead end. I then turned to Amazon, but only one hard cover book (for the price of $34.95) popped up. I didn’t want to take my chance, sign unseen, that this book would have what I needed and wanted, so I pressed on. Even the Biltmore Estate Online Store had only a few books! (P.S. Nonfiction authors looking for a project, consider writing about The Biltmore. There’s not a lot out there and with one million people visiting it a year, there is definitely an audience!)
And then it came to me. YouTube. If I were even 5 years younger, I would have searched there first. In my mind, YouTube is a play list finder and a child occupier – not a search engine. It is a lesson plan enchancer and a recipe hack for my lack of kitchen skills, but not a go-to writing tool. I change my stance TODAY.
Today, while sitting in my favorite spot in the WTC library, I traveled to North Carolina. Through the blessed gift of wireless internet, I was able to sit and see, listen and learn, explore and experience. Occasionally as I watched the videos I would click pause and study the scene. I then wrote snippets of setting description, or an idea of a scene that could take place in that particular location. I made all sorts of notes. The color of the tile floor, the plants present in the winter garden, where a bench/terrace/fountain was specifically located. Fun little facts about the construction or history of the estate also made it into my notes.
Problem solved, thanks to YouTube.
The best part? I can’t wait to turn all of this research into story.
So, what are you waiting for? No extra spending money needed for this writing road trip! (Although I would recommend packing some snacks… you can never go wrong with snacks!) Tell me in the comments where you plan to “visit” first. Happy travels and happy writing!
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