Friday, April 20, 2012

A Word with Author Laura Frantz

During our recent book club meeting to discuss the novel Courting Morrow Little, we enjoyed chatting with author Laura Frantz. I feel like I have gotten to know Laura over the past few months of correspondence, and with each encounter I always feel so blessed by her warm and gracious spirit. I asked Laura to share a few insights with readers of A Little Loveliness.

You write about 18th-Century Kentucky with such vivid detail. What draws you to this region and time period?

Kentucky back then was a very wild place. My family came into the area then and I've always wondered what it was that gave them the courage to leave a settled, comfortable life in Virginia where they were county magistrates, lived in a spacious stone house, and had servants to make such a dangerous trek and settle in a cabin in the wilderness. Sadly, no letters or journals exist, only census records and genealogical records and family lore, etc. They, and other settlers like them, inspired me to create a story of how I thought Kentucky might have been when untouched and pristine. I'm sure I didn't do it justice, though I tried!

Forgiveness is a powerful theme in this book. Why is this such an important journey?

I believe unforgiveness is a huge stumbling block for many believers, hindering their growth personally and spiritually, if not strangling it altogether. It certainly was this way for me. Christ is the model for forgiveness, and He expects the same of us. No matter how difficult, we must be the first one to offer forgiveness, no matter the offense. This doesn't excuse the harm done to us but releases us from its power. I had to take the first step personally, even though my offender did nothing in return. But it freed me from carrying the burden, and I no longer think of it anymore. When Christ sets us free through our obedience to Him, we are free indeed!

Many people would argue that Morrow was justified in hating, or at least fearing, Native Americans after Shawnee warriors murdered her family, yet Morrow overcomes her prejudices. How important is this to her growth?

I wanted to show a character who was weak and made strong by her choice to forgive. Daniel Boone was my character template in this respect. He had two sons murdered by Indians -- one very cruelly -- yet he refused to hold a grudge. In Morrow's case, letting go of her fear and embracing forgiveness led to overwhelming blessings in her choice of a life's mate, children, and a godly future. Oftentimes, we cannot see sin's domino effect -- or the good that comes from living a godly life. I wanted this to play out in a character's life in practical ways through a story.

Forgiveness seems to come more easily to Morrow's father, yet in some ways he seems less willing to face the past. Why do you think this is?

Elias Little was more heavenly- than earthly-minded. The past was so painful, something that he would never understand in this life, that he kept his focus forward, so to speak. I think this is true for so many of us when we lose loved ones too soon or encounter painful circumstances that alter our lives forever. Nothing can remove the hurt of it, nor explain it away, so we just go on as best we can, trusting God will fill our brokenness with His healing power and blessings till we get to heaven. Either that or we live a broken, embittered life. I think, had Morrow's father crossed the dogtrot and ventured to the other, ruined side of the cabin, he would have been tempted toward unforgiveness and a crisis of faith. Knowing this, he avoided the temptation of doing so and kept His eyes on Christ.

What a memorable leading man readers find in Red Shirt! What inspired his character?

Oh, I wish I had a clue! Red Shirt surprised me in so many ways during the writing of the novel. He became so real to me. That's the joy of writing -- when characters become larger than life. Red Shirt is my ideal hero/husband -- gentle, intelligent, careful, faithful, enduring, strong ... . I may have made him too perfect. Sometimes I forget he was a murderer (remember that dangling scalp?) saved by grace.

Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?

I'm so thrilled to bring Eden's story to life in Love's Reckoning, come August/September of this year. It's a mail-order groom type story that deals with rival sisters and a Scottish hero and is the first of four books spanning four generations -- or 100 years -- in one family. The series title is "The Ballantyne Legacy." I pray readers are touched and God is glorified by these books.

Thank you, Laura, for taking time to chat with us!

Laura is so generous with her time. She actually took time away from her birthday celebration to answer these questions. You will be so blessed if you visit her blog. Please join me in wishing her a belated happy birthday! I encourage you to give yourself the gift of reading Laura Frantz novels. I highly recommend Courting Morrow Little, as well as The Frontiersman's Daughter. The Colonel's Lady is next on my list, and I look forward to exploring "The Ballantyne Legacy" when it becomes available.

If you have thoughts to share about our book club selection, Courting Morrow Little, or an encouraging word for author Laura Frantz, please leave a comment below.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Courting Morrow Little Book Club Dinner

Our ladies book club met recently for a dinner and discussion of Courting Morrow Littleby Laura Frantz. This sweeping tale of romance unfolds in 18th-Century Kentucky, so friend Missy Jones and I planned an evening fit for the pioneers we came to know in the book. We kept our centerpieces simple, gathering bouquets of azaleas and wildflowers from our yards to display in Missy's collection of antique pewter mugs. Pioneers would not have fussed over elaborate floral designs, we reasoned, so we dropped our fresh-cut flowers into the mugs and set them on the table with candles and greenery. 

Blue and white seemed a classic choice for our affair, so we paired my late mother's Spode Blue Roomgoblets with friend Nancy Itson's Blue Danubedinnerware and Missy's antique linens. 

Missy brought this antique milk bucket, which looked beautiful filled with baby's breath and displayed on our food table with a well-worn Bible and antique wooden cheese board. A rocking chair and quilt added to the rustic ambiance of the room.

Missy greeted guests with a delicious gourmet cheese tray and refreshingly light punch to start our evening off right. We asked all the ladies to bring a favorite spring dish and enjoyed a lovely assortment of salads and sides for dinner. I am always amazed at the wonderful balance of flavors we enjoy at our book club gatherings. I prepared our dessert and did some research on popular desserts during pioneer days. I learned that chocolate was not common to the time period. Bread pudding was a possibility, but it seemed heavy for our springtime soiree. So I decided to make a fruit-filled raspberry pound cake. I am not going to share the recipe just yet, as the cake fell after I took it out of the oven. It looked like a disaster, and I was heartbroken to think of starting over, so I gave it a taste before throwing it out. And it was delicious! So, the lesson learned was that a flopped cake is just waiting to be turned into a trifle. This turned out to be an even better option than displaying the cake because the individual trifles set at each place added a little more color to the table.

I will share more details of our Courting Morrow Littlebook club event in upcoming posts, so drop by again soon!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Painting Eggs 2012

One of the highlights of our spring break was our annual visit to paint Easter eggs at our favorite pottery studio. Here are a few pictures from our afternoon of family fun.

"As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life." ~ John Lubbock

Friday, April 13, 2012

Make a Bunny Topiary

Computer problems have made Internet service spotty this week, but I think my husband has us back on track now. I have been eager to share this centerpiece I made for our Easter table.

This sweet bunny topiary is so precious, I think I will leave it out through the spring. Following the directions in this post, you can make a shaped topiary for any holiday or theme.

I picked up this white footed bowl at a floral outlet and hot glued a half-sphere of plastic foam to the bottom and covered it with a circle of sheet moss. A trio of silk tulips added a little color to the base.

To make the bunny, I used a marker to softly draw the outline of a leaping bunny on a sheet of plastic foam. You could trace a coloring book picture or print a simple graphic, but printer issues meant I needed to draw the design freehand. I used a knife to cut out the design, then used it as a pattern to cut larger bunnies out of sheet moss. I hot glued the moss to the front and back of the bunny. Cutting the moss generously allowed me to turn down the edges to cover the perimeter of the foam, clipping curves as needed and filling in any open spaces with extra moss. I used a generous amount of hot glue to make sure the moss kept the bunny's shape. When I had completely covered the bunny, I used a knife to cut a small hole in the underside of the bunny to insert a striped straw from The Sugar Diva. Then I cut a small hole in the foam base and slipped the topiary into place. I finished off the bunny with a pink ribbon tied around the neck.

I also embellished these wooden eggs to add to the display, thanks to an idea I picked up from Martha Stewart to use the very thin, top layer of a decorative paper napkin to decoupage the egg with ModPodge. Find a tempting assortment of toile napkins here.

This sweet bunny topiary graced our table as a centerpiece for an Easter meal, but I am already dreaming of its possibility as the crowning touch for my tiered servers for a springtime tea.

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." ~ William Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Memories

We enjoyed Easter Sunday with my in-laws in LaGrange, Ga. Here are a few photos of the children and their cousins, Hollis and Reese, from our afternoon together.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin