Saturday, November 29, 2008


As you can see I decided to do a little housekeeping here. Just like a woman, I guess, to want to paint and rearrange even on a blog! Hope you like the new format and colors.

I was thinking that besides all that leftover turkey and stuffing and pie, I really appreciate Thanksgiving because it has none of that let-down feeling I get at Christmas. Thanksgiving unwraps a very merry month of Christmas carols, snow, eating Cranberry Bliss Bars and those little Reese peanut butter and chocolate trees, wrapping gifts, mistletoe, and all the rest. But January ... If you think you're really hardy, I welcome you to a northwest January:)

As I write this Randy and his dad and Paul are up in our last apple tree shaking the branches to get those apples down so they can make a last batch of cider before winter sets in. It's so wet and dreary today I'm in here by the fire typing this rather than outside shaking down apples. They usually pick instead of shake so I think they must want to come back in by the fire.

On the book front, I am up to page 184 of The Scrivener's Daughter and I think, for once, that I'll be able to keep this one to about 350 pages. I am learning so much about the Revolutionary War and have the best possible teachers - Alan Eckert and James Thom. It you want a wonderful winter read, run to your local library - no, better yet, go to and buy a very inexpensive copy of Long Knife or Follow the River. Then curl up by the fire and forget where and who you are!

Here's a Sabbath thought by Oswald Chambers: "The will of God is the gladdest, brightest, most bountiful thing possible to conceive."

Have a blessed Sunday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas countdown

Now that we've downed all that turkey, Christmas is only 26 days away! In years past we've had our tree up by today and all those Christmas cards addressed and stamped and the whole house smelling of cinnamon and cedar and woodsmoke. But not now! I have other things to think about like book covers and sales catalogs:) I did untangle two strings of white lights and threw them up over a quilt rack and the hutch but they're hanging a bit crooked and not all of them are twinkling. I won't be sending Christmas cards this year, just book cards and bookmarks next year, Lord willing.

About that book cover. It's been interesting to hear first impressions. My mom said, "Wow! Your name is in big letters!" My dad thinks the man standing in the background looks like Randy, my husband. Sans ponytail, that is - or queue, the 18th-century term. A dear Hispanic friend of mine looked at the girl on the cover and exclaimed, "My, she's so WHITE!" Well, as far as I know, Joyce, there were few Hispanics settling Kentucky in 1777. They were making things happen further west (Missouri territory)!

I really like the cover. It's very different than I thought it would be. The beautiful girl on the front is an actual model. I hope she reads the book! Lael looks right to me as does Ian behind her. His clothing is also just right. Colonials were big on buttons. I love the cabin and woods and the dramatic colors. I even love the font style used - sort of looks chisled in wood. I'd prayed about this whole process and am so pleased. If you were standing in my shoes after a 40 year wait, you'd be singing too!

The Frontiersman's Daughter is available for pre-order on and also at this point. And yes, I've already ordered my copy!

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

about that book cover ...

Here is that book cover I've been promising. Since I'm banking on the fact that you would rather look at it than read a post, I'll just say that I would love to hear your first impressions, any and all, anonymous or not. If you tell me yours I promise to tell you mine ...

Monday, November 24, 2008

i love words

As you can guess, I love words and some of them appear too frequently in my work. Friend and fellow writer, Ann H. Gabhart, author of those great Shaker books (and many others) says she sometimes finds herself using the same pet words over and over. Right now I am stuck on the word "seemed" and am having to go through what I'm writing like I'm killing snakes to weed it out. I also love the words unravel, disarming, mercurial, intense, etc. When I'm tired they tend to multiply and I find them everywhere. This might sound strange but good writing has a certain rhythm. You can read a sentence and tell if it's not quite right. Guess this is a little like playing violin and hearing that you're too sharp or too flat.

My boys are so excited now that we're creeping closer to Christmas. They love advent calenders, especially the one LEGO makes for December. Behind every little door is an even littler LEGO creation. They've already flipped a coin to see who will open door number one in only 7 more days. I never have to worry about them doing math this time of year because they are constantly counting down the days, counting their Christmas money, counting holiday cookies and candy, etc. Must be a boy thing:)

And now for you faithful readers who are following this blog, I have a little pre-Thanksgiving surprise for you tomorrow. Can't wait so please check back in!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the thankful list

Here are some things I'm thankful for:
1. forgiveness
2. Randy, Wyatt, Paul, Digger the dog and Callie the cat and other family
3. lawnmowing season is over
4. hot cocoa with whipped cream
5. good books
6. Mannheim Steamroller's CD - A Candelight Christmas
7. sleeping in
8. Starbuck's cranberry bliss bars
9. leather boots
10. snow
11. weddings
12. going home
12. encouragement
13. The Bible
14. my brother Chris and his pictures for these posts
15. long walks
16. happy endings
17. letters

After 145 posts on this crazy blog, I feel a bit uninspired (but still thankful)!

The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.
-Lin Yutang

Be content with what you have for He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Thursday, November 20, 2008

soft hearts, hard feet

Last night at the Alpha study our church is doing, I learned about a woman (British-born) who has an amazing ministry in China. At about age 20 she went into one of the largest and worst of the Hong Kong slums to work among the drug addicts and prostitutes there. She's seeing Chinese people become free of all kinds of addictions as they turn to Christ. These people love her because she has a "soft heart and hard feet." Many people have "hard hearts and soft feet." I wonder what would happen if we prayed for a heart like Christ and feet that were willing to go wherever He calls us? I think He loves that kind of prayer.

Next week is Thanksgiving and I am looking for just the right Butterball to fit in my fridge. The Frantz menu really never varies: roast turkey, Cracker Barrel stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, garlic cheese grits, green beans, cranberries, deviled eggs, black olives, and sparkling cider. If that sounds somewhat dull, wait till Christmas! I'm always so thankful for an abundance of food, among other things.

On the musical front, Paul's great-uncle, a violin-maker in rural Quilicene, has just gifted him with a new violin. The wood - maple - is just beautiful and the tone is just right! He is playing a 3/4 size right now so will grow into this one soon. When he got it, he took it out of the case and promptly played "Shortnin' Bread". His teacher is trying to develop some finesse as he tends to saw across the strings with his bow like a bandsaw!! Not an attractive sound.

On the scribbling front, I'm expecting the galleys for TFD any minute (hope they come after Thanksgiving). Red River Daughter is still in a box waiting for the next edit. And, GLORY BE, I've reached page 150 or so on The Scrivener's Daughter and am really enjoying life in a military outpost. Amazon delivered on that Encyclopedia of The American Revolution and it's so good I have a hard time putting it down.

Here's a quote to remind us to look around during this fleeting season:

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.
-Emily Bronte

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

got that plot?

As I was sitting in the orthodontist's office today for 3 hours (poor Wyatt!), I happened to come across a recent obituary/article of the famous author Michael Crichton in Time magazine. He was the creator of the hit movie Jurassic Park and the award-winning t.v. drama "E.R.". Well, he's gone on to his eternal reward - which I hope includes some really good books - all 6 feet 9 inches of him!

The article was talking about his writing, of course, and his ability as a novelist to create "crystalline plots." I thought that was a lovely way to say he can tell a darn interesting story that keeps the reader riveted. Since crystalline implies clear, his plotting must be reader-friendly and understandable. The reader doesn't get lost.

Right now I'm reading a historical fiction novel that is extremely well written with amazing historical detail - and I'm lost. I love this book and I'm not sure it's the author's fault. I think it is simply a plot-driven novel instead of a character-driven novel like the ones I write. On page 300 or so of this book, the two main characters are discussing some action in the book and one of them says, "None of it made any sense." Amen, I thought.

I think my mind doesn't run along complicated lines so truly complicated plots are over my head. This post might come back to bite me if some reviewer reads my work and says, "Frantz writes pretty well but her plotting, by her own admission, is as flimsy as a Wal-Mart paper plate." My plots aren't complicated but I think they are interesting. You'll have to tell me.

I confess I never understood any Agatha Christie mystery I ever read (and I read a slew of them, probably hoping I would "get it" at some point). Same goes for Sherlock Holmes stories. Yet these bestselling stories must be understandable to somebody out there!

I am tired tonight so this post might not be crystalline either. More tomorrow:)

Monday, November 17, 2008

a thankful spirit

I think one of the nicest things about having company is that you still have a clean house and lots of leftovers after they leave:) Yesterday's lunch went well but I had to chuckle. This pre-Thanksgiving meal was heavy on the ham, turkey, pastrami and Valdosta pecans. And our guest of honor is a vegetarian with nut allergies! So after church I rushed home and hid the pecans and tried to make all that meat look less conspicuous! She was very gracious but her mind was really not on the menu.

Two weeks ago she and her family survived a terrible collision that totaled their RV. For a few terrifying minutes she looked out the back of the RV and all she saw was the highway where her 5 year old son had been lying on the bed moments before (the entire back end had been torn away). They were traveling through the Columbia River Gorge when a semi hauling three loads struck. And they were hit three times! Miraculously, all of them were okay.

So they gave thanks for God's protection and moved on to that next singing engagement in a mini-van. She said nothing on earth matters as much as your family. She displayed such a thankful spirit and was a joy to be around. I felt my house was blessed by just having them come in. And she does sing like an angel! Looks like one too:)

One of my favorite preachers, John MacArthur, has said that one of the hallmarks of a believer should be a thankful spirit. And it shouldn't take a terrible accident to make us that way. In contrast, non-believers lack thankfulness. They don't attribute the mercy and grace in their lives as coming from His hand. They have unthankful hearts. Remember the Israelites and all that grumbling in the desert and where it got them?

Sometimes it's hard to be thankful. But Christians are in a win-win situation. Even when the bad things come we have the unbroken sweetness of His presence. There have been times in my life when I was so upended by circumstances and heartache that all I had going for me was Him. And it was enough. Lisa Marie was a good reminder of that.

A cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15

The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

The biggest reason why I can trust in the sovereignty of God is because I am so utterly convinced of the swetness of God. -Beth Moore

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I'm sure many of you breathe a collective sigh of relief when the weekend comes. A good weekend here means sleeping in and big breakfasts and lingering by the fireplace and reading a good book (or writing one). But not this weekend! We're expecting at least ten for lunch tomorrow and our fridge just passed away so ...

Now I have a new fridge and even more company coming:) I think of Thoreau who said, "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." But we all need company sometimes! And the Bible has a lot to say about hospitality. My favorite verse regarding this is:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

We are entertaining an angel of sorts tomorrow. At least she sings like an angel! She and her family travel the U.S. in an R.V. to sing and speak all over. Her name is Lisa Marie Buster and she has a wonderful music ministry. Her husband and sons, ages 5 and 8, travel with her. Her website is really neat and she seems very dynamic. I've never met her but will tomorrow as she's coming to our church.

Hope you have an angel in your future:) Happy Saturday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

a writing marathon

My dear brother and his family did arrive in the U.S. safely and were met by a group from one of the Christian churches they're involved with. No cold airport homecoming for them! I think it's wonderful that folks would go to the airport late at night and greet them. I haven't talked to Chris yet but believe they landed and then got on another plane the next day and are now in Oklahoma for a conference. But he'll be home to Kentucky soon for a big Thanksgiving with our mom and family. The only ones who won't make it are my cousin, Lorri, who lives in Russia - and me.

On Tuesday I had one of those heavenly (rare) writing days when I started early in the morning, about seven, and kept on till about nine o'clock at night. I did break to take a walk, practice violin with Paul, and eat:) But the rest was spent in that wonderful 18th-century world of mine. By day's end I wasn't tired of writing but was just plain tired which sort of dulls the writing joy and you have to rest. Eating has always been high priority for me - and I think one of God's best gifts is a good nights sleep!

I wonder, in this writing journey, where I'll be this time next year. Maybe at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort! They're hosting a lot of Kentucky writers this year. I'm not sure if I would be considered a Ky. writer since I now live in Washington state but my books are set in Kentucky. I'd move back in a minute if I could!

I've just ordered a big book called the Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Some of you might be yawning at this point but this is reading at its absolute best to me! I have to figure out those Continental uniforms - did the soldiers wear black stocks or plain white? Who cares, right? Well, someone will and if I don't get it right I am very sure they'll let me know I didn't do my research. Hmmm. Maybe I should switch to writing contemporary novels.

Hope you're perusing Amazon and ordering a good book - or looking forward to ordering mine:)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

busy tuesday

First thing I thought of this morning was my brother and his family leaving Ecuador today. Because of the time difference between there and here (only 3 hours, surprisingly) they were well into the air when I woke up. They change planes 3 times before finally flying into Dayton, Ohio tonight. I know they will be thankful and very tired.

Because it's Veteran's Day we don't have school. As I get older this day means more and more to me as I look at history and study the Revolutionary War and realize all we've gained because of other's courage, vision, and daring. I really prefer the old-fashioned title of Armmistice Day but am not sure when it changed or why. I hope all veterans feel honored and appreciated today.

Today is also the big meeting when my publisher talks about that summer line of books. This month marks my one year anniversary with Baker Books/Revell! Their acquisitions editor contacted me on November 27th and asked to see The Frontiersman's Daughter, then titled Dogwood Winter. I remember the date so well because it was Wyatt's 11th birthday and I was too excited and sick to eat that Baskin Robbin's cake. So glad I'm here now instead of back there:)

So which of my books do I like best? Hmmm. I think that question is a little like asking which of your children is your favorite. I love all of them for different reasons. But I have to admit that if I could be any one of my protagonists, or heroines, it would be my Red River Daughter. But you'll just have to read it to find out why:)

You can cover a great deal of country in books. -Andrew Long

For people who like that kind of book - that is the kind of book they will like. -Abraham Lincoln, on being asked for an opinion

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? -H.W. Beecher

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Today was quilt-hanging day at our house. Randy doesn't share my enthusiasm for displaying beautiful quilts on walls so he's managed to avoid this little assignment since August but today the pouring rain drove him to pound a few nails and put up another quilt rack. He thinks quilts are for beds only! But they look so lovely hanging up.

All of our quilts are gifts save one. My favorite is a wedding present from a dear older friend and artist who created 12 quilt squares for me, then appliqued and embroidered Washington state wildflowers with many different fabrics and colors onto each square. Amazing! She was supposed to create 16 squares but ran out of time if not flowers. This one is hanging in our living room along with two other quilts. I know it would win some award at a county fair! In one corner she stitched my name with a heart and I was supposed to stitch Randy's in when I married him but after fourteen years it is still blank. I can't sew:)

When I spent the day at Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky this past August, one of the blockhouses displayed a very old Boone quilt behind glass. One of Daniel Boone's nieces or some other close kin was married and the Boone women made the bride a beautiful quilt. Each family member stitched their name on a square. Plenty of quilts covered those cornhusk ticks and was considered a very necessary gift. They would have been scandalized to see me hanging them from walls. Doing so might have branded me a loose (and impractical) woman!

So today I had a quilt hung in the kitchen/dining area. I can see it as I write this and it makes me smile. It's small as quilts go and has a cream background with lots of lovely fall leaves across it - browns, burgundys, greens and golds. Very autumn-like.

Quilts and shoes and good books are my weakness. And oh, check out those new Caramel Macchiato Biscotti at Starbucks! Divine. I can't pronounce it but I can sure eat them. God's gift to get me through another rainy winter, truly! I'm so thankful. And I'm not being irreverent. I mean every word. Try one yourself.

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.
Ecclesiastes 2:24

Thursday, November 6, 2008

rainy days

Rain, anyone? How about 7 inches? That's our forecast for today in western Washington state. I'd much rather have 7 inches of sunshine but we probably won't see any serious sun again till March or so. One winter we had a record 93 consecutive days of rain! Lots of Californians who'd moved here moved back that year! One Kentuckian wanted to move but here I am:)

I don't get a lot done when the sun shines. I want to be outside walking or gardening or sitting on the deck. Now all that winter writing can begin in earnest. On the scribbling front, I'm expecting the galleys for book 1, The Frontiersman's Daughter, any day. Book 2, Red River Daughter, is sitting in a box under my desk waiting to be read and edited again. Book 3, The Scrivener's Daughter, is humming along just fine and I'm well past page 100 now. But there's always so much more going on besides writing.

Paul is busy fiddling - he's mastered the old tunes Liza Jane (my personal favorite) and Camptown Races and now tackles Buffalo Gals. There's a big fiddling camp that occurs in eastern Washington next summer right when my first book is released and we all really want to go. While Paul fiddles, Wyatt dribbles. He plays basketball with a group of high school boys every week. They must be pretty patient as he is only a 6th-grader but he's learning. Basketball seems to be his sport.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like to have a girl in the house. But I don't think I'm up to dance lessons and Girl Scouts! I didn't like being a little girl, frankly! I hated Brownies and always had my head in a book. Still do.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

post-election pie

For those of you ruing the election results or those of you who might be celebrating, here is a wonderful pie with which to drown your sorrows or top off your joy. It's a quintessential southern pie so dig in!

Praline Pumpkin Pie

1 lightly baked, barely brown pie shell (do not prick bottom or sides with fork)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pecan pieces

Mix softened butter with sugar and pecan pieces - spread in bottom of pastry. Bake 10 minutes at 450'.

3/4 cup sugar
1 envelope plain gelatin
1-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
4 egg yolks, room temp and slightly beaten (reserve egg whites)
3/4 cup milk
1 lb can pumpkin

In double boiler put sugar, gelatin, pumpkin pie spice salt, egg yolks, pumpkin, and milk. Cook for 15 minutes on med-low heat. Chill in fridge till mixture starts to set.

Beat 4 egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar till stiff. Beat chilled pumpkin mixture till light and fluffy. Fold egg whites into pumpkin mixture. Pour into pie crust.

Whip small box of whipping cream with 2 Tablespoons sugar till peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Keep in fridge.

Monday, November 3, 2008

moving day

I just did a quick tally and realized I've moved a total of 12 times since birth if you count my summers working in the national parks, etc. Randy says he married me to stop my moving:). He's only lived here in rural Joyce, Washington, moving from his folk's forty acres to our ten. Of course some folks have moved a whole lot more than me - and my brother is one of them.

For the past 17 years Chris, his wife Nicia, and their four wonderful kids - Andrew, Joshua, Daniel, and Kaylea have lived in Ecuador. All the kids were born there so Ecuador is their home. In just 7 days they'll be leaving permanently. Starting in March of next year, their new country is going to be Spain. Spain is the least churched country in Europe with a heavy Muslim influence. Their ministry - Team Expansion - had to be invited by another Christian ministry in order to come into the country.

I called Ecuador yesterday and talked to them as they ran around packing and selling and giving away items to church members and others. Yesterday Chris preached for the second to the last time in one of the churches their team planted in Guayaquil. Yes, they are all bilingual. Luckily the leap to Spain will just require an adjustment in dialect, not learning a whole new language.

Nicia has a wonderfully upbeat attitude about moving again. She said that it's actually a "liberating feeling" to part with possessions and clean out the house. She's lived in Chile, Africa, the US and Ecuador. And now soon-to-be Spain. They are all counting down till next Tuesday, November 11th when they'll leave Ecuador and fly into Dayton, Ohio.

So please pray for them as they try to make the best of this very busy week, saying goodbye to loved ones there, dealing with last minute expenses, packing, etc. Pray for the churches they'll leave behind and the Ecuadorian pastors and church members. Moving from country to country is no picnic! But like Nicia said, their lives have become so much richer because of it. Now that's a positive perspective.

If you've been missing the great pictures that usually go with these blog posts as much as I have, you now know why they are no longer appearing. My brother is too busy to post them! If Chris has time to read this, I hope he posts a picture of his wonderful family to put a face on this moving experience. If not, I understand! Hopefully when he has more time he'll be able to be our photographer again.

But as it is they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11: 16

Saturday, November 1, 2008

the donut run and other fun stuff

Paul and I did a donut run this morning - a rare event since we live so far from the nearest Safeway. The donut case seemed to be listing from all the orange and black sprinkles, gummi worms, and frightening Halloween-type donut decorations. Paul loved them all.

We made it to the dress rehearsal for the local symphony at 10 am. Our violin teacher invited us to come and it was really neat. The conductor did his thing with a lot of passion (jumping around and leaping on the podium and waving arms). When Paul got tired of watching him he tuned into the tuba player and the big bass (a titanic-size violin, as he calls it). He liked the conductor, especially after he led him backstage to more donuts and candy corn:(
I wondered why the conductor was so animated (now I know). Somehow Paul managed to stay seated for 2 hours through Mahler and Tchaikovsky.

Randy and Wyatt stayed in the woods and made more cider. In my books they make mooonshine but here all we get is cider! Lots of wind and rain today on the first of November. Good writing weather! I've moved past page 100 of book 3 and am still smiling as I go (only I really don't know where I'm going with this one). But HE does so I'm okay.

Hope you are having some sugar today, same as us:) And reading a really good book.