Bringing a story to life

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Filming the book trailer was an incredible experience!

Ken Spurgeon arranged for us to use the Old Cowtown Museum site in Wichita as our setting. We had a sunny, cool, and windy November day–perfect for our needs. About three dozen historical reenactors (all volunteers) came out to help. Ken found three young actors to play the parts of the main character Lucy Thomkins, her brother Joseph, and runaway slave Phoebe. Some veterans of other Lone Chimney productions played the roles of Lucy’s parents and some menacing Border Ruffians. Others strolled the boardwalk of our pioneer town as residents of Lawrence. Mostly, I tried to stay out of the way and let the professional filmmakers handle it, but I was able to help set up some scenes to help recreate some details from the story.

When we climbed the stairs in the Cowtown drug store to film the scene of Lucy writing in her poetry journal, I had an overwhelming feeling of deja vu. The upstairs of that building was almost exactly as I had imagined the upper floor of the Thomkins General Store. When young Anna Spencer sat down at the desk by the window, I nearly cried with joy. It was an amazing moment. Now, whenever I am asked to read from the story, I know I will visualize Anna as Lucy.

Near the end of the day, one of the actors approached me, introduced himself, and said, “Thanks for letting us come out to play.” I could only respond, “Thank you for coming out to play!”

I feel extremely fortunate to have found Lone Chimney Films. I am so grateful for all the actors and crew who came out on a November day to help bring A Voice for Kanzas to life. I know Ken has many hours ahead to review all that raw footage, choose just the right bits and camera angles, create transitions and add the voiceover parts to produce a film less than two minutes long. I appreciate his enthusiasm for the project.

My movie adventure begins…

My husband and I are off to Wichita, Kansas this afternoon. Tomorrow we will be there while Lone Chimney Films works on scenes for the book trailer. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to see at least some of this process. After the filiming, Ken Spurgeon and his crew will work on the voice-over and editing magic that will bring a little bit of A Voice for Kanzas to life.

Besides the excitement of the filming itself, I’m really looking forward to meeting the LCF folks. As I have looked through the short bios of the LCF board and crew, I see teachers, writers, runners, artists, musicians, and horse-wranglers. Above all, it’s a group of people with a passion for learning and for bringing history to life for the present generation. Definitely my kind of people! We’ll have no shortage of fodder for conversation. I can hardly believe my good fortune in being able to work with this awesome group of professionals.

Photos and more to come soon…

Next stop, Hollywood! (or maybe Wichita)

I’m excited to be working with Ken Spurgeon and his crew at Lone Chimney Films on a book trailer! We’ve been discussing ideas for a live-action short film to promote A Voice for Kanzas. To see more about Lone Chimney (and why I’m so stoked about this collaboration), go to   I plan to post more about the process as we move forward with the film. Lone Chimney has also used the talents of a group of musicians called The Freestaters. They play wonderful songs from the Territorial era, and I’m hoping we may be able to use some of their music in the trailer as well.

A real book…and a trailer!

October 4, 2011

I received a message from editor Kira Lynn today. She was asking me to proofread the final version before it goes to press–especially the excerpts quoted from primary documents, since she doesn’t have access to those. No problem, really, since I have hard copies of all of those. I opened the PDF, looking forward to seeing the book laid out and found….


Wowsers! I love it! I’ll post it here when I have a jpeg version. I clicked through a few pages of the book and discovered the beautiful job they did with the text and visual motif. The chapter headers (all primary documents) are printed on special pages that look like old paper. Lucy’s poems and letters are set in script font that looks like handwriting. It’s all really quite lovely.

Tonight I had a great phone conversation with Ken Spurgeon of Lone Chimney Films. Ken’s film company does dramatic films based on events in Kansas history. I met him at the Kansas Sampler festival last spring and asked if he might be willing to do a book trailer. Tonight we brainstormed some ideas (we were both thinking along the same lines already), and Ken is as excited about the project as I am. Ken also knows some musicians who play music from the 1850s era, and I’m hoping to see about uploading some music to the website.

Suddenly, it feels like things are moving very quickly!