Brainstorming, Anyone?

Well, it happened. I knew it might. My editor at Kregel emailed and is hinting that they would like me to finish the Goldtown Adventures middle-grade series with books 5 and 6 (so every series has the same number of books). I have agreed to think about at least one book. And . . . if I’m going to all that trouble, I might as well write both of them.

Titles, anyone?

First of all, let’s think about titles. All the book titles need to use the same format. Check out what a friend and I came up with for books 5 and 6. By the way, if any of you have other titles with this format of “Something of Something” for books 5 and/or 6, I’m open to hearing about them! Titles are my hardest thing to create.

  1. Badge of Honor
  2. Tunnel of Gold
  3. Canyon of Danger
  4. River of Peril
  5. Mountain of Terror (Torrent of Terror?)
  6. Valley of Treasure
What are the books about?

Good question. If I knew the complete answer, I would not be asking for help. But here’s what I have so far. I have tentative (subject to change!) overall “story problems” for the books, but a story nutshell does not make a full novel. I need enough ideas and plot events to fill a 40,000 word novel (and the ideas need to have something to do that builds up and complements the overall story problem, i.e. no “rabbit trails” that go nowhere. So, here we go. All ideas welcome!

5 -Mountain of Terror (or Torrent of Terror?)

River of Peril is set in the month of September, when Jem is just turning 13. So I don’t want to wait too long for the next book. I’m thinking a winter setting. Jem (for a reason yet unknown) accompanies his father into the mountains (maybe they are looking for Strike or somebody else). The climax occurs when they are in danger of an avalanche when the weather suddenly warms up unexpectedly.

I have also thought about having a fire take down most of Goldtown (mining camps were notorious for fires ripping through) and so a fire scare could also come into play. Or . . . a flood because of the warming temperatures that floods the town out and plays havoc with the Midas Mine. Miners trapped, etc. Hey, I am open to anything! (Deluge of Terror? Torrent of Terror?) But in the end, a flood could open a whole new wash of placer gold, so there is never anything bad without some good.

6-Valley of Treasure

This last book is actually a little easier to write. In the Goldtown Beginnings, when Jem is turning eight, he and Strike the prospector head up to the high country for a fun prospecting trip. During the course of the book, they actually do strike it rich. They have two super-heavy (gold is very heavy) sacks slung over the donkey Canary’s back. On the way home, the donkey slips on the trail near a precipice and the heavy sacks hang over the edge, pinning Canary on top of Strike. In order to save the donkey and Strike, Jem has to cut the ropes and allow their rich bags of gold to fall down into the valley thousands of feet below.

Fast forward five years. It’s spring and Jem convinces his family and Strike to go searching for that “lost treasure” they left behind all those years ago. (Lots of gold stories, true ones, involve lost treasures). So he, Ellie, Nathan, and Strike take off on a gold searching adventure. I’m not sure if I should have them find the treasure in raggedy sacks (seems kind of a stretch) or maybe find gold from the original map Strike showed Jem on the original trip and their original destination.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to think of plot events that can build up to the climax to either or both of these stories. Danger, cougars, adventures, Nathan getting hurt . . . all of these are on the table . . . and more. I also have my two contest judges brainstorming for me.

The original map to a gold strike
Cutting the rope and letting the gold fall.

If I end up using any of your ideas and/or brainstorming (not just a one-sentence idea), I will acknowledge your contribution in the book(s). This is your chance (like in the new Milestones short story books) to share your ideas and be part of a real book.

If you do comment, please include the name of the book (Mountain of Terror or Valley of Treasure) you are giving ideas for. You can also use the contact form if you want to share your ideas privately.

Ready . . . Set . . . Go!

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

38 thoughts on “Brainstorming, Anyone?

  1. Wow this is so cool! I”m so excited that your probably writing another book! I really like those titles. I can’t remember did Jem live in California too? In Mountain of Terror it could be like a really bad storm or a blizzard and Ellie gets lost in it and they have to find her? Just an idea though.
    For Valley of treasure I really like the idea of them going to search for the lost gold!
    I can’t wait to see what you decide!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, they live in California. A blizzard is a possibility, although I have to make sure I am not repeating plots from other books, and in the little kids’ books, there is a title called “Jem’s Wild Winter” and there is unseasonable snowfall. But . . . it is not a blizzard, so I will keep that idea in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In book 5 you could have it where they’re looking for an outlaw. And Jem accompanies the posse. Jem and his pa get separated from the Group when there’s an avalanche and Jems Pa gets pinned under a boulder I think it be cool if you had Elsie in the book like she followed them and helped get the boulder of her pa just an idea 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you read the Goldtown books? If not, you might not be aware that outlaws and Jem with a posse (at the end of book 1) has already been written. I need brainstorming ideas that have to do with the two settings. And . . . unless it happens accidentally (like it did at the end of book 1, when Jem ends up with the posse), no sheriff is going to let a boy be part of a serious posse looking for outlaws.
      Also, an avalanche is snow. A landslide is rocks and boulders and it’s doubtful that two kids could move a boulder off anyone. I so wish it were that simple, though. 🙂 It would be a great plot but my publisher would say I have to make it more believable. *sad face*

      However, “getting pinned” under something is a great idea as a minor plot event during the course of the story. So I will write that one down. Thanks!


      1. It could be jem Copper and Elsie moving a boulder. Oh and I have read the four other books in Gold town’s just been a while. they’re actually my brothers so I can’t look back at them. I have no idea where they are😂


  3. It would be creepy if there was a fire all over Goldtown, then it floods, then the temapture drops and the flood water freezes. Okay, maybe not the fire part.
    But i do like that youre writing Valley of Treasure. Would Nathan and Ellie be going? I also like outlaws. Maybe they heard of the gold and want to beat Jem and Strike to it😃

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Or maybe there was a fire in the camps and\or town and so that’s why Jem, Strike and and outlaws are so eager to find the lost gold.


  5. I’ve always felt like there was a gap in the circle c books about jem and chad. You say they’re best friends, but i can only see that they ever met once growing up. Could jem possibly travel to the circle c ranch? (Maybe his dad has business there or something) it would give jem and chad more time together, (get chad to get to know ellie a bit more😉) and then a valley title would fit right in! Let’s see, pa &jem go fishing or something, maybe they go hiking? I don’tknow. Sorry there’s no big plot there, but it’s a work-off-of-it idea.
    I love, love, love the idea of the last book, a gold hunting expedition is something I’d love to read! I know that my little sister is going to have new ammo to get her big sis to read to her soon xp
    I’ll bethinking about more titles too . This was sofun, Mrs. M, thank you for this great opportunity to help shape these books!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes!! I was going to suggest bringing Chad in one or both of the books! And also the Chad and Ellie thing. Or you could wait until they are older before adding any romance.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it has never been stated anywhere (that I can remember) that Chad and Jem are “best friends.” They meet only once, in Tunnel of Gold, and I had no intention of filling any “gaps,” since the Circle focuses more on the ranching/girls and the goldtown more on the gold rush/boys. If it’s set on the Circle C it’s a Circle C (and not a Goldtown) adventure, if that makes sense. However, your idea is intriguing and I will put some thought into how this could possibly work.


  6. Other title suggestions
    -Flood of Fire ( maybe if you will do the fire in the mining camp) I like it because it seems to contraduct itself because the word flood is usually associated with water, not fire.
    -Dreams of Gold
    -Out of Reach (like the gold Jem is looking for is out of reach)
    I dont know, I’m just throwing out ideas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like Flood of Fire Gabriella. It sounds so… intriguing and draws you in because floods aren’t associated with fire. Good idea!! I love it!!


    2. Yes, very interesting “Flood of Fire.”
      “Dreams of Gold” is out. I have a book by that title already: Andi Dreams of Gold, Stepping Stones #5.
      “Out of Reach” is interesting but doesn’t follow the “noun” “of” “adjective” format of the rest of the titles (who knew this would be so complicated?) LOL


  7. Here are some things I thought up (and I used some of the ideas that others had… everyone is thinking up cool things!)
    Goldtown 5: Mountain of Lies
    After narrowly escaping an avalanche in the winter, Jem is sure the rest of the year couldn’t possibly be as eventful. He’s wrong. As the winter winds to a close, spring rains and the melting snow cause the river to flood. The Midas mine is flooded in a mudslide and some miners even lose their lives. Mr Sterling is blamed for the accident (they say he should have constructed it more safely). The river is still partially flooded and Jem is panning for gold being washed down from the mountains when Will Sterling comes around. He’s mad because the mine is flooded/washed out and has the attitude that if his dad can’t get the gold, Jem shouldn’t have any either. He kicks at Jem’s pan which gets tossed into the river. Jem is mad and Will realizes that he just took his worries about his dad’s job too far. He steps away from Jem who’s angry and into the water! The flooding pulls him away quickly and he can’t last for long. Jem grabs a branch and rescues him from the river. When they get back to town, Will gets in trouble for being close to the river. He blames Jem and says Jem pushed him in so that he won’t get in trouble. Now Jem has to clear his name and convince Will to tell the truth. What will it take for them to finally become friends instead of enemies? Can Jem show God’s love and turn the other cheek? As the boys return to school, there are many people angry with Mr Sterling for the mine flooding (which caused some deaths) and thus with Will. For a while, Jem is glad that Will is getting what he deserves for once. Then he realizes that it really isn’t what Will deserves. Both Will and his father were getting accused for a flood that was out of their control, just like Jem was wrongly accused. He sticks up for Will but still shows compassion to the others who lost fathers in the tragedy. When Jem sticks up for Will, Will feels guilty for what he said about Jem. He admits that he lied and apologizes to Jem. Jem forgives him and helps Will to clear some of the damage from the mine with some boys from school that he convinces to help out.
    Goldtown 6: Valley of Treasure
    The four (Jem, Ellie, Nathan, and Strike) go off together to look for the gold and at first everything is going well. Then, someone (probably Nathan) gets bit by a rattlesnake. They are way out in the country and do what they can. Luckily, Strike has dealt with snakebites before and it turns out all right. As they descend into the valley, a rockslide is started above them. Jem and Ellie quickly make it out of the way, but Nathan is paralyzed by fear. Strike throws him out of the way of a boulder, but gets himself pinned under a big rock. After the rocks stop falling, the kids try and get him out. He’s unconscious and they don’t know what to do. It’s too hard to get Strike out from under the rock. Suddenly, a man appears. Jem recognizes him as someone who had been hanging around town as they had made their plans for the trip. The stranger helps them to unpin Strike from the rock and leads them back to town. He asks a lot of questions about what they were doing there and warns them that the valley is full of danger. When Strike is feeling better, the kids go to check on him. He is worried that the accident did something to his head because he can’t seem to find the map. The kids wonder where it could have gone. After searching through all of the things, they wonder about the man who ‘helped’ them. Was the rock slide really an accident, or is there someone out there trying to get rich quick? When Jem tells his pa, he just says that Jem is jumping to conclusions, but Jem is worried. If a man would start a rockslide to get some cash, what would he do once he’s used it up? Frustrated that his pa doesn’t believe him, Jem convinces Ellie and Nathan to go back to the valley with him. Hoping that the gold hasn’t been found yet, they are in a race: who will get the gold first? Jem finds out that it’s hard to be a leader, but the three will have to work together to stay safe and find the treasure. They have to dig at night to make sure that the man doesn’t find them and he has the map so they are just going by where the man is digging and Jem’s foggy recollections. One day, Ellie is talking too loud and they are discovered. “I told you guys to stay out of here,” the man said, “and now you’ll pay for your foolishness.” He runs up the steep side of the cliff hoping to start another rockslide and get rid of the kids once for all. Rocks start moving, but the guy falls down with them. The rockslide moves far down the mountain and brings down a shower of gold with it! The man is excited that he’s found what he was looking for. Sure that he can take it all back without the kids interfering too much, he starts to bag it up. “Stop right there,” Jem’s pa says. He had come to find his runaways and had seen what had happened. The man goes to jail and Strike gets his gold back. The man had skipped town before paying off his debts at the hotel and saloon which is why he had gone for the gold in the first place.


    1. Just . . . wow, Naomi. Wanna just write the book for me? This is quite thorough, and I will be copying all of these plot events into my ideas file for serious contemplation. Thank you so much!


  8. I’d love to see some more of Ellie in the books! As far as a title and ideas, I really like the Valley of Treasure idea. For plot stuff – perhaps a sickness sweeps over Goldtown, or there’s a really bad year for farming and there’s a food shortage?


    1. That would be fine if the primary audience for the Goldtown books is the same audience as the Circle C. Jem is the main character because this is primarily a series targeting boys. Ellie is a good sidekick, but she can’t overshadow Jem and Nathan more than she already does.


  9. It sounds great to have more books! My youngest brother should be excited. He just gold the first four for his birthday and loved them.
    For mountain of terror…what if some sort of sickness starts to go around and, just as everyone is ready to panic about an epidemic there’s an explosion at the Midas. Many men are trapped. (Actually outlaws caused the explosion as a distraction so they could rob… something)
    The men who aren’t sick are all desperately trying to reach the trapped miners.
    Meanwhile, the doctor determine what medicine he needs but there’s no one to go for it. (For some reason the stage isn’t running… maybe a washed out road.)
    Jem gets elected. Either Aunt Rose insists on Ellie and Nathan going to get them away from the sickness or Ellie sneaks along but the trio end up on on mission together. Things may go fine till on the way back. Then Nathan or Ellie falls sick. Jem finds some shelter and does the bast thing he can think of. Leaves some medicine with the well child and presses on for Goldtown. When he sees a campfire he runs straight for help and smack into the outlaws who are sneaking away with their loot. (Maybe they have been mining a big strike in a lower tunnel while everyone is higher digging the miners out.). Maybe one of them even got sick and they purposely track him down.
    Jem has no way to get away, and the lives of nearly a whole town are counting on him. Either Pa figures out what was happening in the mine and tracks them down or Nathan or Ellie see smoke and come snooping.
    Moral? Maybe “No plan is God proof”. The outlaws thought there’s was fool proof. Or “God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.”. Or “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”.
    Glad you’re writing more!


  10. I’m apologizing ahead of time for how long this will be 😬
    I’m not sure which order these two should go in (and they probably need a lot of modification) but here goes:
    Valley (Or mountain) of Treasure/Mountain (Or valley) of Trouble, etc. (This would take place mid-winter)
    One day, Jem remembers the treasure he and Strike searched for years and years ago. Suddenly wondering if the gold is still there, he rushes to Strike’s tent. In a whirlwind, a trip is planned (and of course Ellie and Nathan want to go along). Pa and Aunt Rose reluctantly agree, and they set out. Amid many dangers, including a small avalanche, a cougar, and more, Jem begins to wonder if it is safe to move on. But Strike is more determined than ever to discover the long-sought treasure. After an accident involving dropping the map into a creek (smearing the ink and making it nearly unreadable), the kids are now depending on Strike’s memory to get them safely to the treasure. From intensely studying the partly ruined map, they decide the treasure is nearly at the top of the mountain. At last, to their relief and excitement, the treasure’s hiding place is found! They dig up a chest, to find it’s full of… fool’s gold. Disappointed and confused, they start to put the chest back…and find that another chest was below it, this one with true gold in it. It’s dusk, so they decide to make camp and leave in the morning. Strike sends Ellie and Nathan to find firewood while he and Jem set up the tent. Minutes later, the woods are eerily quiet, and the kids are nowhere to be found. Jem and Strike search everywhere and nearly stumble into an outlaw group’s camp. At least seven outlaws are there, and Ellie and Nathan are tied up. Terrified and having no idea what to do, Jem and Strike retreat a safe distance. After an excruciating amount of time, they decide to try to ransom them with the fool’s gold- in the dark, it was nearly impossible to figure out whether it was real or not. Somehow, Jem convinces them to let Ellie and Nathan go for the gold. They hurry back to Strike and instantly prepare to leave. But as they’re running for home, the outlaws realized they’d been tricked and chased after them. Strike trips on something, hits his head, and is knocked unconscious. Once again, the team is captured with no hope of escape. As they sit tied to a tree, a blizzard rises over the top of the mountain and strikes hard. The outlaws find a cave to take shelter in, their nerves frazzled because they can’t get away as soon as they’d hoped. The storm lasts several hours before dying away. Meanwhile, as soon as it was safe, Pa and a posse (who’d known about the outlaws) had seen the storm and gone looking for Strike and the kids. When the outlaws, who had robbed the bank, emerge from the cave, they practically slam into Sheriff Coulter (Pa) and his posse. A gunfight ensues, during which Jem and the others manage to escape. But Pa is in grave danger. The outlaws outnumbered him two to one, and the outlaws were closing in. Jem grabs a rifle and tries to help, injuring two and surprising the rest. Then somehow Pa captures the rest of the outlaws, and they return home with the gold. Or something like that lol 😂
    #2 Ravine of Danger/Valley of Fear etc.
    (A week or so after the previous one. These two go together) Jem is so excited about his previous adventures that he can’t stop talking about it to his friends at school or wherever. Will Sterling is, of course, upset about all the attention Jem is getting. When Jem brings up the subject again a few days later, almost boasting about his crack shots in helping Pa, Will declares that he can shoot better than Jem. Having no way to prove this, the two argue for a while. Then, the outlaw group from the previous book (or another) escape from jail and are bent on revenge on the sheriff and his kid who threw them in prison. Pa gathers a posse, including Will’s dad, and heads out to capture the outlaws once again. Jem is scared for his pa. He goes to the creek and is shocked to find Will sneaking off with his (Will’s) rifle. After catching him, Jem discovers that Will plans to catch up to the posse and help them. Will is too upset to admit it, but Jem realizes that he’s scared for his father and wants to help. To Will’s annoyance, Jem insists on going along because he knows wherever Will goes, trouble follows, and he might be a hinderance to the posse if Jem doesn’t convince Will to turn back. They hurry along, unsure of where the posse was headed. Towards evening, they break through the forest and spot a ravine. The posse (Jem’s Pa and a few others) are trying to cross it and had just reached the bottom. They were headed, it appeared, for a cave on the other side. A good place for outlaws to hide. Then they see a cougar staring down at them. It crouched, and Jem sees with shock that it wants to spring down upon the men. Confused because mountain lions tend to stay away from people, Jem knows they must shoot the cougar before it killed the men. Jem snatches at Will’s rifle, but he jerks it away. “You’ll probably hit my dad” he says, and fires at the cougar. The bullet hits the ledge right under the lion, toppling it down. A massive rockslide begins, and suddenly the posse and lion are buried alive. Terrified for the posse’s lives, they scramble down and try to find them, but it’s hopeless. Wondering what to do, they decided whether to leave for help or not. Suddenly, Strike appears with Nugget (the dog) at his side. Behind him is Canary (the donkey). He explains that Nugget found him and was all nervous and scared. Knowing Jem was in trouble, Strike grabbed Canary and followed. Using a rope, Strike and Canary begin pulling rocks off. Jem and Will help. Just then, they hear a shout and look up to see the rest of the posse- they had split up to surround the cave. They help move rocks, and before long, two of the three men are out. The one left is Jem’s Pa, but they simply can’t find him. Worried, Jem begins moving more rocks in another area. Jolted loose, they crash down towards him. Just in time, Strike pushed Jem out of danger and is himself buried. After an hour or so, Jem’s Pa and Strike are out, but they are both wounded badly. Will knows it’s his fault and his father yells at him for coming. The posse still want to check the cave, but when they go in, a cougar cub is the only one there, which explained the mountain lion’s unusual behavior towards humans. Suddenly, they spot the outlaws, and I guess they catch them maybe? However you’d want to end it 😂
    Sorry it’s so long! Hope this helps!


      1. Thanks! And I just thought of something else, too: Maybe, in the last one, Will feels really bad about Jem’s Pa being so badly injured (broken bones, cuts, bruises, concussion?) that he feels Jem will never forgive him. But Jem is reminded of Jesus saying “As God has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” and manages to truly forgive Will. And then maybe the two are true friends? Just an add-on idea!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Or maybe Jem boasts about a wolf or something he shot, not helping his Pa with the outlaw situation. Then the books wouldn’t have to go in a particular order 🤷‍♀️


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