Sunday, February 13, 2011

Interview with KC Frantzen, children's author

Tennessee author KC Frantzen is launching her debut middle grade children’s book, May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy in the summer of 2011, through RushJoy Press. She is available for author visits to your group or school.  May on the Way is for children ages 7 and up, and animal lovers of all ages.

Me: Tell us a little about you, KC. How long have you been writing? And what inspired you to write a children’s story?

KC: I've always spoken “critter,” since Dad is a veterinarian. I started writing in elementary school and even won the school-wide contest with a story on deep sea fishing. But though I kept writing, it was mostly just for fun.

In the early 2000's, I wanted to get serious and searched for an academic course to help me. I found it! Upon completion of the Apprentice Level of the Christian Writers Guild (CWG) course, I knew I wanted to write a book. But life intervened and I didn't quite get around to it then.

Though we only have four-footed children, I thoroughly enjoy the two-footed variety. I taught 5th grade once upon a time and continue to be interested in children's issues. I've been concerned about children's literature and its underlying "agenda" since the 1970's. I'll never forget a story about a young colt that needed assistance to stand. The owners were going to put it down, but after much pleading from the child, put braces put on its legs. Long and short of it, not only did the pony die (the child saw the carcass atop a trash heap, braces still on its legs) but the real kicker was the father lied to the child. We read it in junior high school (7-9th grades) and I ran out of school SOBBING. What an awful awful story for kids. Shudder.

What ever happened to a good story just for the sake of a good story? Something with redeeming values and respect for the founding principles of our country? Something with moral absolutes, i.e., there really truly is evil, there really truly is good? Something parents can read aloud with their children or feel comfortable letting the child read on his own?

Today, these seem few and far between. Some will think I have my own agenda. Perhaps I do! Kids need to know that all is not hopeless and dark and dystopian, with gore and crassness. There is hope and laughter and light, even in the tough times. That wayyy more often than not, parents are not the enemy. And that good guys (and K9's) DO win. 

Me: Tell us more about May and how she came to have her own book?

KC: Ah! Our May! Well, much of the story happened in real life. I admire the spunk of this little dog who lived a meaningless, hopeless life in a crate. She has much to teach all of us, especially those who are in or have been in an abusive situation. She is amazing. And quite honestly, this is a story God wants me to tell. That might sound hokey to some, but the story used to wake me up at night, "Write me… Write me…" and still does!

Me: What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome in completing this story? And how long did it take?

KC: I'm not an overly organized person, nor am I a good time manager. Life goes on and the world cannot stop for me to sit and write for hours on end. So, I'd say the issue of time, and feeling like I couldn't tell it like it needed to be told. External and internal conflict, as I've learned, is necessary in a great story!

I started in March, 2007, though the seed was planted during the CWG course. One of my great mentors, Sandra Byrd, complimented a particular lesson in which May was the protagonist. (What might be humorous to some perhaps, is that I never made it to that scene in this book. So… stay tuned!)

The other major obstacle was deciding whether to go the traditional publishing route or not. After much thought and prayer, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and form our own small publishing house. It's been a great learning process and one of the joys has been finding an amazing illustrator for May's story.

We asked around, looked at portfolios and reviewed information from the professional organization to which you and I belong – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Enter Taillefer Long from Charleston, SC!

Taillefer is a pleasure to work with, I think partly because he is also a writer. His initial sketches for May On The Way were spot on. He is now creating all the illustrations which we should have finalized within the next month or so. He is also designing the book cover and laying out its pages. We are quite pleased to have found him.

We are also working on gift packs. We have partnered with a wonderful dog treat company and we are working on plush toys and other items.

Me: Do you have plans for a sequel? Any other new books we can look forward to reading?

KC: Thank you for asking! Yes! Must get that scene in somewhere! May will continue her training and chase the bad guys. She's a K9 spy, after all, prone to get herself into all sorts of predicaments and adventures.

Me: Do you have any advice for new children’s book writers?

I'm not the one to ask. This is my first crack at it! But I'll share things others have told me.

LEARN all you can, anywhere you can. That includes reading in and outside of your own genre.

WRITE. Put pen to paper or fingers on keys! The only way to get better is to write. Why? Because it will be pretty awful when you first put it down. The genius comes in the revision(s). I'm NOT saying my work is genius, but after LITERALLY over 100 revisions, it's a lot better than it was at the get-go.

GET HELP. I hired Sandra as my writing coach last summer. After review, she suggested I completely rewrite the story. Every last bit of it… All in May's point of view. So anything that happens must be something she thinks, sees, hears, feels. Nothing happens otherwise. It's one of the most difficult things I've ever done, but so worth it… (Now that I'm done… ) Seek out other writers who are ahead of you in the craft and be respectful of their time. Help others who are struggling like you are. It's amazing the synergy that happens when a group of writers gets into a room to help one another. Find a good critique partner or group. (Thank YOU, Rita!!)

PRACTICE HUMILITY. This is good anytime, but especially when you write. You put yourself "out there" and you need to know that barbs and criticism will hit from the most unlikely places. Don't be blindsided. They are coming! Try to be objective, hear what was said, and decide if you need to make changes or if you want to stick with what you have. For myself, many times I needed to make the change.

PRAY. I'm a Christian who is a writer. God has given ME this story to tell. Like a wonderful Romantic Suspense writer at prays, "Lord, inspire me to write stories that touch reader's hearts. Breathe your spirit into my characters so they come alive on the written page. Help me develop intriguing plots full of twists and turns that capture the imagination and move the story to a satisfying resolution. Keep me focused and on schedule and take away any fear or sense of inadequacy that blocks my progress. Give me courage to step out in faith, to stretch and grow, and to be the writer you have called me to be."

That says it!

Thank you for inviting me. I'm very grateful for the opportunity and welcome comments and suggestions from your readers. And if I can help in any way, please let me know! We're in this together!

If the venue is fairly close, both May and I will be available for author talks and book signings. Just let me know and we'll work out the schedule! We (or I) would adore to speak to your group!

PS: Practicing her manners, May sends her BEST greetings. She thanks you for considering her book for the children (and animal lovers) in your life. How would you like your copy paw-o-graphed?

For more information on KC or May, visit their web site at


May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Rita ~

Thanks so much for asking me!

Today, May and I have our photoshoot so we'll be out awhile, but when we're back, we'd love to chat with anyone about the book, writing, whatever.

Looking forward to it!

I'm also glad to introduce people to YOU, your blog and stories. :)

You're a wonderful critique partner and have been a real blessing to me (and others).

Thank you for all you do.

We'll be back after while.


Amber Holcomb said...

What a great and fun interview! KC is such a sweet person, and I'm eager to read this story! :)

May is an absolutely adorable dog, and I think that's great that her story will be told in such a way as to remind children of the absolutes in life, as well as to help them focus on the positive and right. :)

Way to go, KC! You are on a roll!


B.Schwind said...

I can't wait to see May in action and the illustrations. I love hearing stories about dogs that were brought home from a kennel, saved in the 11 th hour and what a blessing they become to a family. I often wondered what stories they could tell and do they realize what they are saved from? May tells us her feelings and fears as she is caged and poked at.Given opportunity we can overcome a hurt beginning and venture on to a full life. There is a story for all in May. Thanks to Karen for her insight into the need of writing this story for children and adults. Bev Schwind-author

Debby Giusti said...


I loved reading about May and how you developed her story. Congratulations on all your success. Can't wait to see the book in print. I know middle schoolers will love the K9 spy!

Thanks, too, for mentioning The Writer's Prayer!

Jim Sykes said...

Additional insight into a friend that I have known and respected for many reasons other than her writing ability. Thank you both.
Jim S.

Dottie Mackenzie said...

Excellent interview!!! Can't wait to see the book in print - and buy a few for my friends and grand kids!!!

Mary Connealy said...

KC this is a terrific interview. I love learning more about your book. I love that you rewrote it in the dog's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Karen and her fabulous book I am constantly wondering what my dog is thinking and plotting. Can't wait to see this in print.

Sandra Byrd

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Amber - It's been such fun. We hope it helps some kids somewhere along the way. We appreciate your support for sure. :)

Bev - You are a real inspiration. I love working with you on the WWG as well as being part of your writer's group. I've learned much from you! Thanks!

Jim - Gosh! Right back at cha!

Dottie - You have been with this project almost from the start. Wow. Thanks for taking your time to read and re-read and RE-read, make suggestions... You're the BEST!

Debby - The Writer's Prayer is close to my computer screen and I do my best to pray it each time I'm writing. You summed up my thoughts so perfectly. Sure appreciate your sharing it, and your books too! They are special.

Mary - Thanks for posting. Your books are such fun with a great message. They've kept me up many a night. *yawn* I only hope mine will make a difference like yours do...

The photoshoot seemed to go well! Guess we'll find out when we see the final result.

Thanks y'all. Keep 'em coming!

Vicki Allen said...

Congrats to a wonderful lady (and writer!) I am honored to call my friend. Enjoyed your interview and look forward to my copy of "May on the Way"--autographed of course!

Unknown said...

GREAT interview. Can't wait to get the book.

Jeanne Bevan

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congratulations, KC. You made it happen with hard work and perseverence.

And all the great things that are going to grow from this one seed are exciting as well.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...


So glad you came by. Can you just imagine May and Brie together, in one room? OH MY... They'd take over the world!

I still can't thank you enough for what you've done for me over the years. Amazing. Thank you forever.

Vicki! That means a lot coming from you, ma'am. YOU are a wonderful writer and publisher in your own right (and mask-maker and pharmacist and Mom and...) Hope to see you again at another book festival somewhere soon. And you betcha, Paw-o-graphed copy will be coming your way for sure!

Hey Jeanne!
Yew betcha! Thank you for taking time out today!

Hi Tina ~
I'm just following your lead ma'am. Forge ahead!!! So glad you came by today! Thanks!

Vince said...

Hi KC:

Very interesting interview.

Can’t wait to see and read a copy of the book.

I was in the K9 section of the Air Force and look forward to seeing how little May makes her way among the big dogs. Our dogs weren’t spies but they were always ready to take a bite out of a spy.

This should be a great book for kids to read. Good luck.


May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Waving Vince!

May sends her best sniffs and greetings to you. She's ready to take 'em on, especially with YOUR help and expertise. :)

Thanks so much for checking in!

Laura said...

I loved reading this blog, and KC your energy and drive is just as I remembered when we were on the plane together to Denver! My 5th grade daughter Megan and I can't wait to see the final copy!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hey Laura and Megan,

Isn't God just good?
It was a pleasure to meet you and... please again, thank Megan for her willingness to be part of the process as a first reader for May on the Way.

May is MOST grateful! (Me too!)

Megan can show her name in the acknowledgments to all her friends. Wouldn't that be something if we COULD come to her school? I'm so glad you suggested it. Quite a ways from here, but mayyyybeee... We'll just see! :)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Some have asked and the photoshoot went really well!

Thanks Rita for posting one of our faves already!

The BIG fun was seeing the Girl Scouts afterwards. The photographer and we went to Walgreens to get a CD made of the photos (113 of them!) and the GS were out there selling cookies. They went NUTS over May

She is ADORABLE! She is so cute! Does she like to be petted? Etc.

May just loved every moment of it. She is SUCH a ham...

We not only got some good shots for the author(s) photo (!) but also perhaps covers for the next books. Really a lovely afternoon.

Court said...

This is off-topic, but I wanted to say congrats on Shelli's contest. That's awesome. Good luck.

Lois Davis said...

KC: I'm so excited for you and May. Im looking forward to reading this book. I am so looking forward to our joint project and where it might lead us. Life sure is exciting.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hey Lois:
Mom of the awesome JoshMan!

Thanks so much - we look forward to working with YOU to benefit man and dog and all to God's glory! :)

Sure appreciate your swingin' by today.

Unknown said...

I have actually met May...and I can tell you she is a sweetie! As is KC! I can't wait to present paw-o-graphed copies to my great-grandchildren! Pat Bugg

Windi said... are an inspiration to all who read your story and book. You will reach many (young and old) with May's story. Thank you for not giving up!

Anne A said...

KC - I am so excited to read your book. As you know, I read to my kids all of the time, and am constantly eliminating tons of what I find at the library, for inappropriate messages and attitudes. I WELCOME a safe book with a message based on truth and Christian principles!!!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hey Pat!
May sends special sniffs. She thinks you're pretty special too! She would be thrilled to have her story in the hands of your great grandchildren. How old are they in dog years?

We're so glad you stopped by this evening. Awwhhh - thanks so much. Our May has a super story. She inspired me for sure! I'm so glad she does you too.

Anne A ~
May is thrilled to think you would consider her book for your kids. She hopes they enjoy it and learn a lot too... And are ready for the next adventure. She's after me to get busy on it!!!
Thanks for coming by and taking time from your busy schedule... Give 'em hugs and sniffs, okay?

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hi Court,

Thank you for coming by! Always fun to hear of anyone doing well. We need more positives... :)

Ricci Neer said...

What a great interview! Even though you've shared bits and pieces over the years, it was awesome being able to read the story all at once like this. What motivated you to do this was so powerful! Thank you for shining your light in the world!

Love, Ricci

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Ricci, my ROCK STAR friend!

Thanks so much. It's been a pleasure to see YOU grow and succeed (radio program, national tour) WAWZAH!)...

Glad you took time and stopped by. :)

Perry Hartman said...

Glory be to God!...KC I am so proud of you for taking the plung and applying the faith of David.

I love you guys and am SOOOO EXCITED to see the future, you deserve the very best God has to offer.

You can ALWAYS count on me.


May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hey Perry!

So glad you popped in... thanks for the wonderful compliment. Wow... :)

Great to "see" you here in the Bayou!

Ruth MacAndrew said...

I have had the privilege of knowing Karen for the last 10 years and feel very fortunate to call her my friend.

Karen is an inspiration to many. She has put her heart and soul into this project and I can't wait until the book is released. I've also had the privilege of spending time with the "Star" of the book. May is such a delight.

Karen I'm so proud of you. Way to go. Love Ruthie

Aretie G Patterson said...

Karen, this is WONDERFUL! I am so proud to know you! This old school teacher totally agrees with your ideas about children's literature and was troubled by the same issues as you raised. Thank you for stating this so well: "What ever happened to a good story just for the sake of a good story? Something with redeeming values and respect for the founding principles of our country? Something with moral absolutes, i.e., there really truly is evil, there really truly is good? Something parents can read aloud with their children or feel comfortable letting the child read on his own?"

Congratulations on your work!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...


May loves YOU TOO! Thanks for coming by to see us in Rita's bayou.

You've known us since we moved here, and been such a good friend, as you are to so many.

We appreciate you!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hey Aretie!

I'm so glad the concepts are "teacher-approved!" Thanks for being here and sharing your comments. :) May is ready to be on her way. ha!

You'll enjoy reading Rita's work too!!