Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Laura Frantz



"In the fading lavender twilight, at the edge of a clearing, stood half a dozen Shawnee warriors. They looked to the small log cabin nestled in the bosom of the greening ridge, as earthy and unassuming as the ground it sat upon. If not for the cabin’s breathtaking view of the river and rolling hills, arguably the finest in the territory, most passersby would easily dismiss such a place, provided they found it at all."

And so it begins, the fascinating story of Lael Click, The Frontiersman's Daughter.  This breathtaking story, told by author Laura Frantz, is my special guest.  

Greetings, Laura!  I just finished reading your debut novel, The Frontiersman's Daughter.  I was enthralled!  I loved learning about the world of your protagonist, Lael.  I've also enjoyed getting to know you a bit online through our blogs.

Please tell us about your blog and where we can visit you online.


I’ve been blogging since April 2008 and love to meet other bloggers/readers/writers online. Please visit at http://www.laurafrantz.blogspot.com or laurafrantz.net!


Laura, how long have you been writing?  When were you first published?
I’ve been writing since age 7 and haven’t stopped yet, though I’ve been tempted to quit many times. I wasn’t published till age 48 but it was worth the wait!

Well, thats good news for me since my writing experience is similiar.  Though I'm not published yet, I am working on it - and am turning 48 soon to boot.




Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I dedicated The Frontiersman’s Daughter to my granny as she was such an encourager to me and never stopped praying for me and my writing. Sadly, she passed away during the publication of this book. She was an avid reader and loved to share Christ wherever she went. My younger brother, Chris, has also been a huge influence, as he forced me out of my writing closet of 40 years and told me to submit TFD and use whatever gifts God had given me. He met with my granny and they arranged for the manuscript to be critiqued by a professional freelance editor prior to my submitting to publishers. 
What a blessing to have that kind of encouragement and people who believed in your work.  I took a leap of faith, and came out of my own writing closet when I started writing online. It really has helped build my courage.  I've also met some great people in the writing community online like you!






What is your writing style? Do you have any particular method for staying organized while writing a book?

I must admit I have to discipline myself away from writing. It’s been my constant companion since childhood and, to paraphrase Stephen King, I’m really never quite comfortable unless I’m writing. It tends to take precedence over everything if I’m not very careful – my husband and sons, church activities, cooking, cleaning, everything! There are days when I get tired but it’s mostly being tired of feeling driven to write. I tend to write every day though I don’t worry with a word count. I just write as much as I can, morning,
noon, or night, always praying as I go.

Ah, kindred spirits we are!

Here's a sneak peek at The Frontiersman's Daughter.

Lovely but tough as nails, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father's former captivity with the Shawnee Indians, as well as the secret sins of her family's past, Lael comes of age in the fragile
Kentucky settlement her father founded. Though she faces the loss of a childhood love, a dangerous family feud, and the affection of a Shawnee warrior, Lael draws strength from the rugged land she calls home, and from Ma Horn, a distant relative who shows her the healing ways of herbs and roots found in the hills. But the arrival of an outlander doctor threatens her view of the world, God, and herself--and the power of grace and redemption. This epic novel gives readers 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.
 
Laura, how long did it take you to write The Frontiersman's Daughter?

I wrote the novel over a ten year period .J During this time I felt the Lord telling me to set it aside so I put it in a drawer for 5 years. I didn’t write a word but just concentrated on being a mom to my little boys, thinking when all was said and done, I’d much rather be known as a good mother and a bad writer than a good writer and a bad mother! At the end of that time I took it out again and got to work. Things moved pretty quickly toward publication after that. Sometimes I think the Lord wanted me to get my priorities straight before the process went forward. Some writers can handle everything well. I’m one who needs a divine reminder now and then.

How did you decide on the Point of View for the story?


I’ve always written from the female protagonist’s perspective so I never considered any other. In my current WIP (the 3rd for Baker/Revell) I’m using both the hero and heroine’s perspective – quite a change, but a delightful one!

What are five words that describe your main character, Lael?


Intense, determined, lonesome, searching, loving.
Lael encountered many obstacles throughout her story.  What really was her biggest obstacle?

Lael’s biggest obstacle was her sense of self. She had to set her independence aside and admit she needed something bigger than herself, that she didn’t have all the answers. There were many tempting alternatives in Lael’s life, particularly her love life that would have proved disastrous had she given into them. Coming to Christ helped clear her vision, so to speak.

She certainly was strong willed, self willed.  And it seemed like much was expected of this unusual young woman; living in her father's shadow.

Who was your favorite secondary character and why?

Without a doubt, Captain Jack! And I’ve heard from many readers who feel the same. I’ve long felt a fascination for Native Americans, particularly the
Shawnee. My granny was part-Cherokee so maybe this is close to home. Why was he my favorite? Because he was a victim of circumstance, caught between 2 cultures. I wasn’t able to develop this as much as I wanted as I had to trim so much of the original manuscript, but he became such an intriguing character to me personally. During the 18th-century there were many white captives who, even after being “rescued” by whites, chose to remain Indian. This has always fascinated me and I think he embodies a bit of that mystery.

Captian Jack sure was mysterious  - many people have a hard time letting go of the object of their love.  It can be confusing.  It was interesting watching Lael work through that, and at last finding peace.  I didn't really know right up until the end who would capture her heart.

Were there any difficult areas within the story thatyouencountered while writing this book?  If so, how did you work through them?



I tend to overwrite so what you see on shelves is The Frontiersman’s Daughter on a diet! Tightening the book as a whole, tossing beloved chapters, was very hard for me at first. Even now I look at the book and see things I wish I’d changed. Editing is a huge part of the writing process, something I didn’t understand fully till now. You really have to work very hard to polish and choose just the right word and sometimes my perfectionist nature drives me crazy. I’d still be working on TFD, trying to make it better if my editor hadn’t taken it away from me. But there’s only one perfect book, after all. J

Sounds painful!  Like cutting off extremeties or something. I guess there can be many ways to tell a story, and tell a story well.  I must agree, there is only one perfect book!

Was there some insight that you personally gained during the writing of this story that you'd like to share?

I really feel writing this story healed some of the broken places in my life. My father left our family when I was a girl and this had a profound impact on me. Growing up I used to wish for a father and, being a Kentuckian and immersed in the history there, I grew up wondering what it was like being Daniel Boone’s daughter. Writing about a father’s relationship with his daughter was somehow helpful to me even though Lael’s father failed her at critical junctures in her life. I realize now that I was really searching for a father who wouldn’t fail and this led to my relationship with Christ. When The Frontiersman’s Daughter went to print I found out that Lael’s name is of Hebrew origin and means, “belonging to God.” I felt once again that Lael’s story was ultimately His story. I hope reader’s feel God’s pursuit of them in some way by reading this book. He wants each of us to belong to Him far more than a fictitious character.

I think many of us have felt that way, longing for love.  Writing is indeed good therapy.  My husband and I often use that very expression - His story.   Realizing that is a wonderful discovery.  Learning the meaning of the name Lael is a special confirmation.  What a blessing, Laura.

What was your experience with the publication process? 

I really had very little to do with the whole process, just worked very hard crafting the book of my heart then watched the Lord open amazing doors. I was very na├»ve as I had no writing contacts, had never been to a writer’s conference, was unaware of the writing community blogging, didn’t have an agent, didn’t realize all the contests available to unpublished writers, etc. So I submitted TFD to The Writer’s Edge Service, which creates a database of manuscripts which publishers can peruse. Within a day of TFD being posted, I began receiving calls from several major
CBA houses. I’ve since learned that this is very unusual. Within six months Baker/Revell offered me a 3 book contract. Throughout this nerve-wracking process, I felt the Lord was teaching me that he was in complete control and was showing me that he was absolutely capable and trustworthy, that I only had to have faith and watch Him work. I did rewrite the manuscript several times prior to submitting it to Writer’s Edge.  From the time I signed with Baker/Revell, it took 1 ½ year for the novel to appear on shelves. Since then I’ve learned a tremendous amount but have far to go. The publishing process is truly a learning process.

After all those years of growing your novel, His timing and direction were right on!

The cover for The Frontiersman's Daughter is stunning.  Did you have any creative input? Were you happy with the way it turned out?

Thank you! The art team at Baker is inspired, I think! They always ask for author suggestions and I told them I’d love to see a bit of wilderness and a log cabin. They used a live model for Lael – she’s really walking around out there somewhere but I don’t know who she is! Overall I was very pleased with the cover and the dramatic colors and setting and simplicity of their dress though my next cover, Courting Morrow Little, is the cover of my heart.

It's gorgeous!  I just love her facial expression.

How involved are you, Laura,  in the marketing process for your book?


Baker/Revell has one of the best marketing teams in the
CBA, with more books placed on shelves than any other publisher. I do a lot of self-marketing locally (radio and newspaper interviews, book clubs, book signings, sending out book cards and bookmarks, etc.). I do hold book giveaways on my blog, etc. And I answer all my reader mail right away which is one of my favorite things to do. I also save them in a big scrapbook as I treasure them so much, the good ones, anyway! Reviews, too. Right now I’m packing for the Kentucky Book Fair which is the state’s largest literary event. 200 authors attend and sign books for the public and all proceeds benefit literacy and library in the state. I’m not by nature a good self-marketer. I’d much rather sit in my solitary corner and write. But it’s part of the job.  J  And if I remember that its Christ’s message I’m marketing it becomes much more doable.

It sounds like your working with a fantastic publishing house.

Literacy, a cause dear to me.  I learned that the rate in
Kentucky for adults alone who have trouble with basic literacy in 20%.  I just cant imagine all those folks not getting to read your book!  Such is the case with many adults in our nation.  I hope you have a great time at the fair and make many new fans!

Please tell us what you are working on now.


Currently I’m working on my third 18th-century
Kentucky story tentatively titled, The Locket. It involves an officer in the Continental Army, a 29 year old spinster, and a mute child, all confined to a frontier fort in hostile Indian territory. Before there was the “wild west” Kentucky was the wild west!


Lastly, do you have a favorite verse or quote that inspires your writing?

Yes! I love Psalm 138:8: "The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; your lovingkindness is everlasting; do not forsake the works of your hands." This verse has certainly proved true in my own life. I love to remember that when we get a promise from God it is as good as fulfilled.

That verse is an excellent reminder.  I think I'll pin it up on my desk.   

Thank you for this wonderful conversation, Laura!  You are a great inspiration. We look forward to reading more from you in the future!


Carla, thank you so very, very much!


GIVEAWAY . . .

As a special thank you to our visitors, Laura is offering you a chance to win a copy of The Frontiersman's Daughter. Just join the conversation by posting a comment below.  For an extra chance to win link to this post through your blog, facebook, or twitter and indicate so in you comment.

Please include your email address like this - myemail [at] myaddy [dot] com.  Contest ends one week from date of post (
midnight Nov. 17th). 



Now for a little more fun . . . Back Story Bonus  (caution spoilers!)


If you've read The Frontiersman's Daughter you might want to discuss these questions in your comments.  Just maybe our author will reveal!

Who stacked the wood pile?
Was Lael's father really dead?
Did Captain Jack have an Indian spouse?

15 comments :

  1. So glad you interviewed Laura. I've already read the book, so don't enter me into the contest, but I will say that whoever does win TFD is in for a treat. I enjoyed it thoroughly and can't wait for Laura's next book. She and I share the overwriting inclination. I currently have my completed WIP on a similar diet that TFD had to undergo. It's very difficult, but also exciting because of the valuable craft lessons I've learned through the process.

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  2. Lori,
    Seeing you on here makes me smile as I was so hoping you'd come over:) Likewise, I cannot wait to read your book! Getting updates about Kindred and Willa are so intriguing. You have a lot of insight about the writing life and I always learn something from your wonderful posts.

    And thank you so very much, Carla, for hosting me here:) I just love your questions and conversational style! Wish I could sprout wings and get Lori and visit you in Maine. Till then it's great to be online friends!

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  3. It's a real blessing having Laura here. Oh, and wouldn't that be great fun to get together. You are welcome in Maine any time you wish!

    Lori, thanks for coming by. I see you enjoyed Laura's book just as much as I did. So, do you have any ideas on the back story questions?

    Trimming down a novel must be so painful. I give you both much credit for doing what was necessary. Wouldn't it be fun if they offered extended versions of novels that do well, like DVD's that come with cut scenes!

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  4. Wonderful interview, Laura. Thanks to Carla's great questions, I learned new things about you. I'm sorry you dealt with your father leaving home when you were a child, but I'm thrilled that our Heavenly Father has brought about some healing through the process of writing.

    The Frontiersman's Daughter, which is on my Keepers Shelf, is a wonderfully written tale. I'm eager to read Courting Morrow Little.

    Note: Please don't enter me in the drawing.

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  5. Keli,
    Thank you for being so encouraging about TFD. It means so much that it's on your keepers shelf. A writer can't ask for more than that! My publisher already has your name on their list for a copy of CML when it's released. I hope you like it just as much.

    I'm so thankful to have moved beyond my childhood scars. Though we always live with the consequences of someone's mistakes, they eventually lose the power to wound us. God really is am amazing healer. And very creative in how He does so!

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  6. I found Lael's father a real challenge to read...he was so infuriatingly non-committal! LOL. There were times I wanted to smack him upside the head! But I don't like to think of him as dead. I don't think he ever returned to the 'white' world - not in spirit anyway and it got to the point where he couldn't go on pretending and his wife was so unhappy. In a way his drowning was a baptism of sorts -- he shed his white skin and was reborn.

    Captain Jack most certainly did not have an Indian spouse...or if he did she died in childbirth or something. LOL. I like to think of him waiting for Lael...honestly thought he'd be her choice at some parts in the book, but they were fated to be star-crossed lovers. I think he died of the smallpox. :-(

    As to the woodpile -- it could have been any of number of people -- including a crew of benevolent beavers. I kept dithering on that one! I wonder if the author even knows??

    Oh -- and I loved the insights into what makes you such a good writer, Laura.

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  7. Kav, I'm so glad you came by. I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on TFD. What an interesting way to put it about Lael's father, "a baptism of sorts". So often parents in that time period seem detached. I think Ezekiel Click seemed additional reasons with his experience with the Indians. I longed for he and his wife to be able to express love to their children, at least in a way I would appreciate.

    Unlike you, I think Captian Jack did have an Indian spouse. At least at some point. I think he was just as torn between two worlds as her father was.

    Benevolent beavers!! Hmmmm. I'm thinking Simon was the secret woodpiler, when she was off doctoring with Ian. I even wondered if it was Will just looking out for her from time to time.

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  8. Oh, I love all this book talk! Better than a box of chocolates:) Kav and Carla, I love every guess/insight/point you make here! It really is a wonder to have readers like you when I stuffed the book in a drawer for 5 years and never dreamed of such things.

    Ezekial was certainly maddeningly elusive. Busy beaver, indeed, on the one question. Don't forget the shingles on the shed:) Or was that the barn roof? Hmmmm...only the author knows:)

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  9. I can't believe you stuffed TFD in a drawer for five years! That might explain Eziekal's reticence...I mean five years in a drawer had to be stifling. He was probably sulking when you finally pulled him out. LOL.

    Simon was one of my woodpiler guesses...but I really don't want to think of him in a kindly way. I didn't take to him from the start -- one thing Lael's father and I agreed -- on and he just got worse as time progressed. For all his 'ungodliness' Captain Jack had more moral fiber than Simon had.

    Will was a possibility but he had enough on his plate with his own homestead...and the distance he'd have to trave! Simon too. Could either of them have just disappeared for that long without it being noticed?

    I harboured the notion that it might have been Ezekiel watching out for his daughter...though I hate the thought that he would have been so close and let her keep on thinking he was dead. I have a feeling though that he didn't understand his value in that family or that his children loved him. In some ways he was more of a lost soul than Simon was.

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  10. At least I'm not the only one with a novel hiding away. Wonder what it will do to my characters!

    Kav, it crossed my mind that it could be Ezekiel, too. Then I thought, he couldn't be so cruel to be so close and yet looking out for her that way wouldn't have been so out of character. I did think perhaps Simon was helping out in secret because of his longing for her which may have fueled his feeling that he had a right to her.

    Laura, just wanted to mention a few of my favorite scenes. The red corn cob that Ian found and the kiss he won - when he kissed the old lady that was so funny! Also, the waterfall scene with Captain Jack was amazing!

    Does anyone else have any favorite scenes?

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  11. Just shush me any time, but I love a good book chat! Besides I'm thinking about doing The Frontierman's Daughter for a book club and you're supplying me with good discussion questions! LOL.

    I loved that corn husking scene as well. I knew the minute Lael spied Ian that destiny was in the making but I was still in the midst of swooning over Captian Jack so I wasn't feeling very kindly towards this new, compelling interloper. But the way Laura drew out the tension -- I was sure Ian was going to kiss Lael...and I couldn't decide if I wanted him to or not (on account of Captain Jack, you understand because, for a character who appeared only fleetingly, he certainly took up his share of my reader's imagination!) And for that reason I loved the waterfall scene as well.

    A scene that I can't say I loved, but it tore at my heart and played such an important part of Lael's development was when her father left her at the school. Her anguish was so palpable and he appeared so unmoved but I know he thought he was doing the right thing by her. It just makes me shake my head though, at how little he understood his own daughter -- who was more like him then his son (who wasn't his son...but that's a whole different topic!)

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  12. Kav, You are so funny! Yes, no wonder Ezekial had cabin fever! After being in that antique dresser drawer for so long he wanted OUT in a big way:)

    Love your and Carla's favorite scenes for all the reasons you've described. I think the waterfall scene is one of my favorites also -very romantic and intense. One of my favorite reviews was from a male reader (on Barnes&Noble) who liked that scene, too, surprisingly. The cornhusking scene was fun to write and I would have loved getting that red ear!

    My editor's favorite scene was at the Bliss cabin when Ian put the pearls in Lael's lap. Interesting that different scenes speak to different people. I really appreciate that you caught the emotion and extreme homesickness Lael had while at Briar Hill. At the time I wrote that I was missing Kentucky terribly being way out here in Washington State.
    It has always been a sort of exile for me - terrible, I know. And I long to get back as much as Lael did.

    I actually cried when I wrote Captain Jack out of the book. He became such a memorable character to me though he wasn't as fully developed as I liked.

    Bless you both for your wonderful comments! 'Tis a writer's dream:)

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  13. Now that I've met you in person Laura, I'm finding you often on the web.
    God really was overseeing your publication. That's an amazing story. So how did getting an agent fit in? Did you get one after the editor's interest?

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  14. Hi Eileen,
    So glad to see you here! Thanks so much for stopping by. You have a wonderful blog(s) yourself:)

    To answer your question, I didn't have an agent until a few months ago. My editor at Revell recommended Janet Grant for future projects and she picked me up after reading TFD. I didn't realize what a fine agent she was till after I signed the contract with her. An extra blessing there as she knows the business so well and has been wonderful. I finally met her in Denver - like you:)

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  15. Kav,
    I forgot to mention that you can find discussion questions for TFD on Revell's website if you wanted a look. Not every book club adheres to them but they are sort of interesting (I hope!) as I wrote them! If nothing else they provide a different slant on the book, etc.

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