Laura Frantz is celebrating the release of her debut novel, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, which hit bookstore shelves August 1st. This story is the first of three historicals purchased by Revell/Baker Books.
The Frontiersman’s Daughter is set in Kentucky, a place that resonates with Laura. She grew up in the Bluegrass State and often played on the original site of Fort Boonesborough. Her ancestors were some of the early settlers who followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky.
Laura worked as a schoolteacher and social worker before marrying her Washingtonian husband. They and their two sons live a rural life in the misty woods near Port Angeles, Washington where they spot deer, elk and even bear on occasion. The nearest supermarket–and donut fix–is half an hour away. The Frantz family only recently received television reception after years without, but Laura was far more excited about the addition of high-speed Internet service this past spring.
A self-professed girly girl who likes purses, shoes and Starbucks lattes, Laura is outnumbered. In addition to her husband and sons, the family has two dogs and a cat–all males. When Laura isn’t busy homeschooling or working on her latest novel, she likes to cook and bake, write letters long hand and listen to her youngest play his violin.
Join me as we learn more about Laura and her journey to publication.
Laura’s Journey Begins
•After thirty years enamored with the idea of writing, you got serious and started The Frontiersman’s Daughter. What led to this decision, and how did you adjust your schedule to fit in writing time?
I’d been writing since childhood, creating a novella at age 12 after visiting old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. In high school, I wrote the sequel to Gone With the Wind, and then moved on to a romantic suspense novel, even penning Dances With Wolves II. Needless to say, they were terrible and wouldn’t have sold to my mother! The seeds for The Frontiersman’s Daughter had been in my heart since childhood so this was what I felt driven to write.
Luckily, I was able to stop working and stay at home when my first child was born. My problem has never been finding time to write. I have to discipline myself away from it or it takes priority over everything. You really do make time for what you love and writing has always been my first love.
•You took a five-year break from writing when your boys were little. How did you know when you were ready to return to your stories? What was different this time?
The difference was that I’d given my life to God and was letting Him manage my time. Knowing that family was His priority for me and writing was second best helped me adjust my priorities. Once I learned that lesson I felt compelled to begin writing again. I feel God really redeemed those five non-writing years as things moved very quickly toward publication after that.
•When did the characters in The Frontiersman’s Daughter begin talking to you, and how did they get your attention? Did you envision the opening scene, hear snippets of conversation or have the entire story play in your head movie style?
Growing up in Kentucky, and having family history there since the late 18th-century, I was always dressing up and portraying those early settlers, even into my teen years. I’d carried the opening chapter of Lael letting down her hair for the Shawnee in my mind for many years. After that, the story just seemed to unfold naturally, based on the history I’d been steeped in as a child. Much of the time my writing rolls through my head movie-style and I just write it down.
Partners on Laura’s Journey
•At one point, your family gave you a huge gift. They arranged for a professional edit of what would become your debut novel. What did you learn from the editor?
My brother spoke with various editors and decided upon Arlene Robinson, a professional freelancer in the Atlanta area. She read The Frontiersman’s Daughter, then titled Dogwood Winter, and handed me a 40-page critique. It was then that I realized how little I knew about the craft.
Arlene used words like story arcs, opening hook, resolution, character transformation, readability, etc. I’d been doing these things but didn’t have a name for them. She basically gave me a crash course in the dynamics of fiction writing! Interestingly, she suggested very few changes so I knew the manuscript was just about ready.
Arlene’s main concern was my tendency toward overwriting. She didn’t tell me what to cut, just to cut, which I did. She also told me my male lead was too perfect and needed a quirk. So, I made Ian a bit more human but you’ll have to read the book to see how he’s flawed.
•Once you felt your manuscript was ready, you submitted it to The Writer’s Edge. How does this service work? What type of response did you receive?
I learned of The Writer’s Edge online and was impressed with how they link authors and publishers through web exposure. Once they accept your manuscript proposal/sample chapters, they provide a listing, which is sent to 90 publishers, including the leaders in Christian publishing.
The day after my information was posted, I heard from two major publishers. Although these publishers passed (and then a third), within six months Baker Publishing Group contacted me and soon signed me to a 3-book contract.
•November 27, 2007 will forever stand out in your mind not only as your son’s tenth birthday but also as the day your received The Call from Revell. After nine months of waiting, you must have been ecstatic. Please paint us a picture of your call story with all the sights, sounds and emotions we writers love.
First, I was SHOCKED! And so excited I was too sick to eat my son’s ice cream cake. I was also too nervous to call the editor back so … believe it or not … I waited a couple of weeks. I’d been rejected/passed over by three major pubs at this point, including my dream pub, and I was seriously considering contacting The Writer’s Edge and pulling my info. I felt this call would be another heart-rending disappointment.
Writing for me is a soul-thing that has little to do with being published. It’s been my constant companion since childhood, and I’ll always do it, published or not. I’m pretty shy about the business end of things. If my editor hadn’t contacted me again, I doubt I’d have a book on shelves today.
•Your debut novel released this month. What have been some of the high points?
The high point had to be, after so many years, finally being able to call myself an “author.” Up till then, I was a closet writer and few people knew I wrote anything other than our church newsletter. It was fun watching peoples’ reactions.
I also loved the process of titling my book and meeting the art team for the cover design. This was something I’d dreamed of for years.
And then, finally holding the actual book last month was just second to holding my newborn sons. Seeing it at Barnes & Noble and others places was a dream come true.
•The Frontiersman’s Daughter has received awesome reviews, including four-and-a-half stars from Romantic Times. Which comments have meant the most to you?
The first person I heard from was a reviewer for a national magazine who said she never contacts authors but was so moved by my book she broke that rule. That meant so very much as you never know if your words reach from your heart to the readers in any meaningful way. Hearing from readers is a joy beyond belief – and incredibly fulfilling.
•Some writers struggle to meet the word count for their targeted market. You have the opposite challenge. Your stories grow to great proportions and must be whittled. What was it like taking The Frontiersman’s Daughter from its original 170K words down to 100K? What did you learn through the process?
Yes, what you see on shelves is The Frontiersmans’ Daughter on a diet! At the risk of sounding melodramatic, making those first edits was a very hard process and I even felt physically ill. I’d spent years making the manuscript letter perfect, or so I thought. But I began to see that pruning helped strengthen the story and bumped the readability factor sky high. Now I can tackle an edit and not feel any remorse as I cut a single word or even a beloved chapter. However, I do save my favorite deletes.
•You wrote your first two books for Revell using only one POV, that of the female lead. However, you added the hero’s in the third contracted book. Why did you make this change, and how difficult was it to make the switch to multiple POVs?
I love writing solely from my female lead’s perspective. However, I began to see this narrowed the action and emotion for the reader. Writing from the male-female perspective really broadens the novel in huge ways.
In this third novel, I’m hopelessly in love with my male lead and feel he has a stronger voice than even my female lead in alternating chapters. Reading other books, like Ann Rinaldi’s historical fiction, really showed me how this could be done successfully.
Laura’s Journey Continues
•You’ve sold three historicals to Revell, all set in Kentucky. Have all three gone to your editor?
I just submitted my second manuscript, Courting Morrow Little, to my editor and am awaiting revisions. The third novel is two-thirds completed and isn’t due till next year.
•What will you work on once you’ve fulfilled your initial contract?
I’ll always work on historical fiction, and Christian fiction is my first love. Recently I thought of writing for the young adult market and am waiting to see if this is simply my idea or a bit of divine inspiration.
Laura’s Debut Novel
•Please tell us about The Frontiersman’s Daughter.
Of all the books I’ve written, this one was meant to be on shelves first. It contains my love for Kentucky, my family history, and my faith. Lael’s journey is, in a very real sense, my own.
From the Back Cover:
One woman searches for love–and herself–in a wild land. Lovely and high-spirited, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father’s ties to the Shawnee Indians and her family’s past, Lael comes of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement her father founded. As she faces the many trials of life on the frontier, Lael draws strength from the rugged land. But the arrival of a handsome doctor threatens her view of her world, her God, and herself. Can the power of grace and redemption break through in this tumultuous place? This epic novel gives you a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians, all through the courageous eyes of a determined young woman who would not be defeated.
Five Facts About Laura the Writer
~ I don’t like to call the main female character my heroine. I prefer protagonist or lead because heroine to me implies a perfect person and all my characters are flawed.
~ My female protagonists may laugh or chuckle, but they never giggle. Giggling is something I’m not very good at and carries the connotation of silliness. I do love a big belly laugh but have never liked giggling females in books or otherwise.
~ I don’t work with a critique group. I live so deep in the woods I’d have to go too far to find one! Plus, I’d probably try to please everyone too much and my work would no longer be my own.
~ I love research. Every historical fiction author is also a historian and I’m glad!
~ I try to walk three miles a day as some of my best book ideas come while exercising.
Five Fun Facts About Laura the Person
~ I’m a serious person who feels things very deeply. Most people, however, say I’m outgoing, light-hearted, and gracious. Wonder who’s right?
~ I once lived in a British castle and studied the American Revolution from the English perspective.
~ I love to dig in the dirt and have a big garden, which my husband now tends.
~ My biggest wish in life was to have been a concert violinist/fiddler.
~ Heaven, to me, is being surrounded by good books and writing eternally.
Laura’s Question for You
•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Laura. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. And now it’s your turn to ask your visitors a question. Go for it!
I’d love to know what your readers look forward to most upon publication? Least?
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
Learn More About Laura
Visit her Web site – http://www.laurafrantz.net
Visit her blog – http://laurafrantz.blogspot.com
Friend her on Facebook – Laura Feagan Frantz
Friend her on ShoutLife – Authors/Laura Frantz
Follow her on Twitter – LauraLFrantz
Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
If you want to leave a comment for Laura but prefer not to be entered in her drawing (or mine), just add a note to that effect at the bottom of your comment.
Laura has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of her debut novel, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, to one lucky visitor.
To enter the drawing, leave a comment for Laura by midnight Pacific Time on August 25th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On August 26th, I’ll post the winner’s name here.
Congratulations to Jennifer Blanton, winner of The Frontiersman’s Daughter.
Keli’s Regular Drawing
My next drawing will take place August 31st. The winner will receive a cute tote just the right size for a beach read, sunscreen and a soda.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by August 31st and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On September 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and August 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On September 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)