Wednesday, March 31, 2010

happy day

Today was a big day for us and I wanted to share our excitement here. After several years of renting and borrowing violins, we were able to buy Paul one today! I wish you could peer past my very poor photography to the beautiful fiddle underneath. It's made of maple and has mother-of-pearl inlay around the rim. An older fiddler Paul knows decided to sell it and we were so happy to take it off his hands. The tone is so fine - very mellow and sweet. The funny things about violins is that a good one only becomes more valuable over time. Another interesting thing is that they must be played. A violin that isn't played deteriorates pretty quickly. The tone becomes very poor. At least that's what we're learning.

We celebrated by going to lunch at Arby's. While there a funny thing happened. A lady came up to me and asked if I was Laura Frantz. I said yes, thinking she'd read my book (though no one has ever picked me out of a crowd before!). She said she'd seen Paul play at a recent show and wanted to meet him. I had to chuckle when they shook hands and got acquainted. That beats an old book any day:) Being a fiddler's mom is lots of fun and you meet all sorts of interesting people. I like to think the Lord picked out this very violin for Paul. It just took us a few years to find it.

I'm not musical myself. I quit after flunking flutaphone in the 3rd grade! But I'd love to know if you play an instrument or ever have. Or if you don't, which one would you play if you could?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

yet another hero

Lately, I've been reading more history and biography than fiction. Not only is truth stranger than fiction, real life trumps fiction every time! And the past is so much more fascinating than the present, at least for this history-loving chick:)

I seem to be unable to get over my infatuation with the Founding Fathers. If you haven't seen the HBO miniseries John Adams, please run to your nearest video store and rent it. The musical score is incredible and the movie itself astonishingly clean. There was just a tarring and feathering incident, and then one romantic interlude between John and his peppery wife, Abigail, that had us hitting the fast forward button. Oh, and a couple of minutes showing a very geriatric Benjamin Franklin taking a bubble bath with an equally geriatric French countess. He was quite the ladies man, you know!

Don't let John's unheroic looks fool you. Beneath that balding pate and those heavy features was one of the most amazing intellects of the 18th-century. He was a man of principle and honor and courage. And guess what? He died on the 4th of July, fifty years later. I like to think the Lord rewarded him for a life well lived.

Contrast John with Thomas Jefferson whose personal life would have made prime time television today. He died deeply in debt and his beautiful home, Monticello, passed out of his family. I'm not a Jefferson-basher by any means. He had some very fine qualities. But I'm puzzled and disturbed by his relationship with the mulatto Sally Hemmings even two hundred or so years later. And why his wife made him promise, on her deathbed, to never remarry. I'm also troubled that so many of our founding fathers clung to slavery while crying "liberty" so loudly. Amazingly enough, Jefferson died on the same 4th of July as John Adams, which just goes to show that the Lord doesn't play favorites, I suppose.

I'm not a big movie watcher but thought I'd mention John Adams here. Have you seen any well-made historical movies? Or read any biographies of historical figures? I'd love to know!

Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it. -Oscar Wilde

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the joy of stays

I've been studying what made up a woman's clothing in the 18th-century and it is quite complicated! No underwear, for starters. Can you imagine? Then there were those pesky stays that were made of bone and fabric (usually) and shaped a woman's upper body (or tried to) into a cone shape. Add a shift, several petticoats, some stockings and garters, and then top it with a dress and you are still not done! In one collection of ballgowns I've been perusing, the dresses are over 200 years old and the only defect on most are the sweat stains beneath the arms:) Try dancing for hours on end without deodorant, in a crowded ballroom, lit by heat-inducing candles and no air-conditioning in 90 degree summer temps. Now you have the idea of what it was like being a colonial belle...

Interesting facts:
~George Washington did wear underwear, unlike most men, and ordered his from a tailor in London to go beneath his clothes.
~Thomas Jefferson suffered so from the cold he also followed George and ordered underwear from London. Think longjohns here.
~Colonial women among the gentry sometimes took hours to dress, then changed several times a day for tea, dinner, riding, etc.
~Pregnant women in colonial America did not disguise their condition and often rode, danced, visited, shopped and did all else till their "reckoning" in their normal clothes which were simply altered.
~The preferred color for colonial wedding gowns was yellow.
~Powdered wigs were de rigueur for the gentry; if you ran out of powder, flour sufficed.
~If you wanted to brush your teeth (given you had any) you would use "Essence of Pearl" tooth powder. I think that sounds quite charming, actually! And best not put that in your book because I am:)

I have a little secret to share with you. Take a look at Morrow's book cover. Though I love it wholeheartedly and would not change a single thing, there is one interesting historical error therein. I saw it immediately when the final copy was sent to me. But I don't give a hoot as it is so incredibly well done (in my humble opinion, which doesn't sound very humble right here). If you know your history you'll be able to detect it. If not, don't sweat it. Most readers don't know the difference or give a hoot either:)

Monday, March 15, 2010

blogaversary giveaway week!

This week there is a book party going on over at my friend, Renee's , wonderful blog. Authors Candace Calvert, Janet Dean, Cirella Seachrist, Julie Lessman, and myself are helping Renee celebrate her love of Christian fiction and the anniversary of her popular blog. Each day offers readers prizes and excerpts from new or upcoming books. I even managed to tantalize readers (I hope) with my first ever excerpt from Courting Morrow Little. Yes, really! Morrow has many suitors so I didn't reveal just who the mystery man in this particular scene is so you'll just have to wonder - or read the book...

On Thursday, Morrow's day, we'll be giving away a Crabtree & Evelyn gift set and also a signed copy of Courting Morrow Little once it's released. But there are lots of other prizes so I encourage you to go over and take part. You might just meet a new author and fall in love with another book:)

A book begins with falling in love. You lose your heart to a place, a house, an avenue of trees, or with a character who walks in and takes complete possession of you. Imagination glows, and there is the seed of your book. -Elizabeth Goudge

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

a quiet spot

Sometimes my heart longs for a quiet spot like this - a quintessential 18th-century one. The window behind the chair is so lovely and casts wonderful light upon the ink pot and quill and paper. I like to imagine I would find even more inspiration if I had this little space. Recently I came across another quote that I just love:

The past is another country. They do things differently there. -L.P. Hartley

Speaking of the past, I'm 19,000 words into another story that I love - and it truly is like a foreign country as I've moved off the frontier. Not too far but just far enough that I no longer feel danger from Indians at my door or have to go herbing as there's an apothecary just down the street:) Sixty-nine pages in and I love my characters but need to go back and add depth and detail. I'm always so thankful when another research book drops into my lap that meets the need of the moment. I sense the Lord's presence spurring me on. Since writing is such a solitary pursuit I'm very thankful for the divine intervention:)

Do you have a quiet, inspiring spot? What are you reading - or writing - this week?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Once in a while you see a person that just leaps out at you and demands to be put in a book. This is one of them. When I first saw this little colonial reenactor I said, "Abby!" She's the little girl in my third book coming out August 2011 - the one you helped me pick a title for. You know, The Colonel's Lady vs. The Locket debate. And despite all the great feedback, I'm still undecided! It will be fun to see what my publishing team comes up with as I have a feeling it will be very different than anything mentioned here. I'm so glad The Frontiersman's Daughter won out over Dogwood Winter and Courting Morrow Little beat out Red River Daughter. So it's fun to imagine what the book to be will be named. Kind of like a third baby:)

That's the funny thing about publishing. Just about the time your second book is released they're already hard at work titling your third book and meeting about cover art. I should have another cover for you once October rolls around. And I'm already excited as it's my favorite part of publishing.

But back to little Abby here. My husband thinks she looks grumpy. I think she's perfect. The tousled red hair. The intensity of her expression. She looks stormy and with good reason. But I'd best not say anymore lest it be a spoiler. And I want you to meet Abby on your own terms, not mine:)

You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up. -Margaret Atwood

Only bad writers think their work is really good. -Anne Enright

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

escape from unpubbed island

Tomorrow I'm guesting over at Unpubbed Island as the Seekerville gals dub their very innovative writing site. Their blog began a few years ago when a group of unpublished writers banded together to help other writers with all things related to publishing including writing contests and helpful articles and insights, etc. Their archives are a treasure trove! Since then several of them have become published, among them Julie Lessman, Cheryl Wyatt, and Mary Conneally to name a few. This month one of my favorite authors, Francine Rivers, will be a guest.

Julie recently finished TFD and asked me to be a guest blogger tomorrow. Since you all inspired me about heart-stopping heroes a few posts back, you'll see a recap of our lively blog discussion over there:)! And I'll be giving a copy of TFD away. Happy March!