There’s No Place Like Home!

It’s exciting to travel to unfamiliar places and soak up the history and ambience, but I like to take a cue from Dorothy Gale…there’s no place like home especially if you are writing a historical book set in the area or state you live in.

A few years ago, I decided I had to be more diligent about visiting museums and area attractions close to home to help me find ideas or tidbits to use in my writing. My current release, The Widow’s Suitor, is a prairie romance. When I first saw the hero on my cover, I thought “Pa Ingalls”. I hadn’t written the story with Laura Ingalls Wilder in mind, but she was the first author who introduced me to prairie life. I’m sorry to say that I live about ninety minutes away from DeSmet, SD, home of Little House of the Prairie and I have never visited the town or museum. I think I’d better get this attraction on my list of places to visit!

I have visited Historic Prairie Village in Madison, SD, another close to home attraction. As the name tells you, they moved in buildings to replicate a prairie town. It seems once you’ve seen one attraction like this you’ve seen them all. It’s not true with this Prairie Village. They house two hard to find attractions, a working Hershell Spellman steam powered carousel (now converted to gas) and the chapel car, Emanuel. Did you know there were railroad churches? They were designed to bring the word of God to people on the prairie.

Little House on the PrairieA few hours visiting attractions like this can help you add authenticity to your historical writing. On a tour of the Adams House in Deadwood, SD I learned wealthy people kept their table silver in a safe in their home to avoid theft. A mansion in my home town area which has always been a private residence, gave tours for a fund raising effort and I saw a smoker built into the fireplace chimney in the attic. That’s right, they heated their home and smoked their meat at the same time. It made me wonder did they use special wood when they smoked the meat. What did the house smell like while this process was taking place? A historical society in Yankton, SD is in the process of refurbishing a historic building, the Meade Building, which was a sanitarium. There is beauty in the structural aspects of this building. Gliding down the elegant marble staircase you’d never guess what was housed directly behind it. When you get further into the building and see the closet sized patient sleeping rooms and the area where you see where treatments were done, it is eerie, scary, and eye opening.

I referenced Dorothy Gale because L. Frank Baum lived in South Dakota and I’m sorry to say I’ve never visited the Aberdeen area where he first started writing the Oz books. Although we can’t click our ruby slippers heels together to get to our destinations, if you want to know what it was like to live a hundred years ago, there is no place like home to get started!

Do you visit area attractions around the settings of your books? What are some small tidbits you’ve found?widows_suitor

*****************************

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Widow’s Suitor.

 

CORA ANDERSON ISN’T LOOKING FOR LOVE The young widow is just trying to make a life on the prairie for herself and her newborn son. When handsome newcomer Luke Dow shows up at her cabin door, she soon relies on the man’s help with her homestead…and dares to dream of the future. Luke came to the small South Dakota town to build a hotel and make his fortune. But he never expected to care for anyone, let alone the beautiful Cora and her baby boy. When Cora’s land claim is challenged by a neighbor, Luke will do all he can to protect her and her home—and claim her heart.

If this book don’t beat all!

 Feelin’ flush, I moseyed on down to my Christian bookstore and discovered a heap o’good books.  My bazoo about dropped to the floor at the selection.  “Well, if this don’t take the rag off the bush!” I exclaimed to the sales clerk who didn’t seem to twig. “You sure done a bang up job gettin’ in these here Doxology works resources.  I’m lookin’ to rustle me up a couple o’ books…Shoot, I’d like the whole kit and caboodle, but I’m not that flush!”

 That poor dude looked like he was caught in a dry gulch. Well, it was clear I wasn’t goin’ to make a mash with that feller even though he acted like a thoroughbred.  I could tell he wanted me to hobble my lip but he had the manners of a gospel sharp and wouldn’t say so.  In fact, he backed away like he wanted to beat the bear around the stump so I took pity on him. “Don’t you worry about me.  I need to get a wiggle on anyhow.  I sure can’t wait to have a hog killin’ time with this here round up.  I’ll be a goner for sure.”

 That poor boy skedaddled into the back and sent his mama out to help me.  I didn’t care a continental though, not with shelves full of Simon pure stretchin’ out in all directions.  I didn’t want no namby-pamby romance, you understand. Nope, no flannel mouths for me. ‘Course I’d heard the scuttlebutt on all the best books from this here blog but I had to find me somethin’ brand spankin’ new. And I found it.  Uh-huh – it’s fine like creamy gravy and a whole lot tastier.

 ladyA Lady Like Sarah : a Rocky Creek Romance by Margaret Brownley.

 Once you’ve met Miss Sarah Prescott, you’ll understand my lapse into Western jargon.  Oops, I do Sarah a disservice. 

 “I never did cotton to being called miss.  Makes it sound like I’m missin’ out on somethin’ just cuz I ain’t got me no husband.”

 Sarah’s lived a rough and tumble life. Orphaned at six and raised by her outlaw brothers, trouble stuck to her like a shadow.  We first meet her handcuffed to a U.S. Marshall who is taking her back to Rocky Creek to hang for murder.  Oh –  did I mention that someone shot the Marshall and stole his horse leaving both Sarah and the lawman lying unconscious, close to death when…

 Okay, this is the part where you’re anticipating the ruggedly handsome cowboy riding to the rescue, right?  Sorry to disappoint, but Justin Wells is a Boston preacher and he’s reluctantly heading to his new parish in Rocky Creek on the heels of a scandal back home. 

 Justin has a bible story for every occasion.  Sarah hasn’t set foot in a church since they buried her parents. Justin favours long-winded prayers and sees miracles at every turn.  Sarah has never had a prayer answered and doesn’t believe in miracles. You know the old adage, opposites attract?  Well, it definitely applies here.  There’s sizzle from their first meeting and it leads to their unexpected first kiss which Sarah initiates.

 “Great sand and sagebrush! How come no one ever told her that kissin’ a man was more fun than fightin’ a bear?”

 Of course the road to true love is never an easy one and Brownley makes it even harder for Justin and Sarah by throwing a few little obstacles across their path to true happiness. Things like a dead marshal, renegade Indians, outlaws, an orphaned baby and…oh yeah…that dang hangman’s noose.  Luckily Sarah receives some “divine interruptions” along the way and Justin discovers that the blessings God had in store for him far outweigh the loss of the Boston church he loved.

 Margaret Brownley has expertly combined humour and drama and the unexpected to give this historical Western a unique twist.  This is a must read…even if you don’t like Historicals or Westerns…because once you’ve read this one you will.

In Sarah’s words, “You have to play the fiddle you have.” and Margaret Brownley has created a masterpiece with hers.

Interview with Author Laura Frantz

Please join me in welcoming debut author Laura Frantz.  Her historical novel, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, was released in August by Revell and has received a multitude of five-star reviews. Today, she’s offered to share a little about herself and give us a peek into her writing life.

About Laura

Please tell us a little about yourself.

 I was born and raised in Kentucky and my love of history goes deep – way back to the 18th-century when my family first came into the Bluegrass State. It will always be home to me, even though I now live with my husband, Randy, and my sons, Wyatt and Paul, in the misty woods of northwest Washington. I go back as often as I can to visit family and all the old haunts that I love. 

I grew up playing on the original site of Fort Boonesborough and swimming in the Kentucky River and climbing the Pinnacle near Berea and watching the great outdoor dramas of the early settlers. Often my cousins and brother and I would play in my Granny’s attic and dress up in the pioneer costumes she made us and pretend to be Daniel Boone, Rebecca, Jemima, or the Shawnee.

As I grew up I began to write stories and they were always historical, filled with the lore I had heard or read about. It’s no accident that my first book (which is actually my fifth book – the others were practice!) is about those first Kentucky pioneers.

I feel blessed beyond measure to write books. My prayer is that you are doubly blessed reading them.

 

What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?

The public library! Where else can you take something home for free, if only for 3 weeks!? I’ve had a love affair with libraries since I was a little girl and still do. When I go I still get excited and hate to leave.

Frontiersman

  Would you rather meet your great-grandchildren or your great-grandparents?

Without a doubt, my great-grandparents! They died shortly before I was born and I was named after my great-granny. They lived so much history and since history is my passion, I have so many unanswered questions. For example, why did my great-granny, the belle of her tiny Kentucky town, wait till she was 35 to marry and then marry my grandpappy, a one-legged man? Why did they only have one child, my grandfather? Why was her father never the same after fighting in the Civil War and being held at Andersonville Prison? Why did she collect rocks from every county in Kentucky? Silly questions, perhaps, but I’m left wondering.

 

 Do you have a specific Scripture that you hold onto?

Prior to being published I came across this verse: The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Your hands. Psalms 138:8

When I wonder what the future holds, especially in regards to my writing, I ponder this verse and trust that He has me in hand and my future is secure. 

 

bananasplitWhat jobs have you had in your life? What did you like most? Least?

I’ve scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins, babysat, taught school, waitressed, and been a social worker. All of them provided great fodder for my writing:) But I’d not want to return to doing them as writing has always been my first love. I pray I can keep writing for as long as I can hold a pen or use a laptop:)

 

About Laura’s Writing

 What’s the most exciting part of the writing journey for you? Most difficult?

I love being able to say I’m an author after 40 years of hiding it! It’s a real joy to have a dream fulfilled. I’d have to say that the most exciting part of the journey would be getting the news about the official title for my book (usually different but better than the one I’ve dreamed up) and also seeing my book cover for the first time. And, of course, holding the actual book in hand. Too many joys to count! The downside would be negative reviews though the postive ones sure make you smile. And I love reader mail. It’s a privilege to answer every one.

 

 What do you hope readers will gain from your novel?

I hope they will see Christ manifested in the novel in some way – His truth through fiction. If my words inspire someone to draw closer to Him or seek Him out or realize His love and forgiveness, then that’s a big blessing to both the reader and myself. I also love books that offer an escape. If you finish my book and feel like you’ve said goodbye to a friend, have come to care about my characters, and hate to see it end, then I’ll feel I’ve been a good steward of the writing gift God has given me.

 

 What do the post-its around your computer/desk say? 

No post-its but I do have a little rock with flowers painted on it which says “GROW.” It’s a reminder to me that writing is a learning process and God is stretching me, often beyond my comfort zone, but it’s for my good and His glory.

 

cabin What works do we have to look forward to from you in future?

I feel so blessed to write 18th-century fiction which is a mostly unexplored time period in the inspirational market. My next novel, Courting Morrow Little, due out next summer, involves a young woman and her preacher father on the Red River in Kentucky during the Revolutionary War. This book details an unusual courtship which I hope readers will enjoy so much they’ll find it hard to put the book down:)

 

 You can learn more about Laura Frantz and her books at her website www.LauraFrantz.net and on her blog, Laura’s Journal, at www.laurafrantz.blogspot.com.