Katie Shands’ Award-Winning Novel, Finding Franklin, Brings History Alive

Katie Shands is an essential part of the Lovely Franklin team. Her love of Franklin’s history and incredible gift of writing and journalism help bring our backstories to life.

Historic Franklin, Tennessee was the inspiration behind Katie Shands’ novel, Finding Franklin. Her book won the Janice Keck Literary Award and a brand new set of devoted fans of Katie and her beloved Franklin.

Katie explains, “I had countless novels saved on my computer, but I had never finished one. When my family and I moved to Franklin in 2015, the town inspired me to begin a new novel. The historic downtown and houses hold so many stories, and Franklin made my imagination come alive!”

Finding Franklin at the Green-Blackburn House

The book took Katie a year to complete the manuscript. It’s a faith-based story about a woman named Charlotte who was abandoned as an infant on a doorstep in Franklin. Haunted by unanswered questions and an unrelenting desire for roots, she purchases a dilapidated Victorian home near historic downtown Franklin and sets out to solve the mystery of her birth.

“When I finished the the novel, I learned about the Janice Keck Literary Awards, offered through the Williamson County Public Library. The award had a fiction division, and the prize was a complete publishing package. So I buckled down, edited the first draft myself, and then sent it off to an editor before submitting it to the contest.”

Katie’s manuscript ended up winning! It was published under the library’s imprint “Academy Park Press.” Get an autographed copy of her book and sign up for her newsletter on her website KatieShands.com. You can also find her book on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Landmark Booksellers, Handy Hardware (both in downtown Franklin), and Parnassus (in Green Hills).

Discover Franklin’s Historic Homes

“The reception has been fantastic, especially since it’s set in Franklin, and everyone loves Franklin!” It has created even more interest in the historic homes of our charming city.

“My all-time favorite historic house in downtown Franklin is the Watson House on 3rd Avenue South. The mansard roof practically drips with drama, and it captures my imagination every time I pass it. The house was designed by Hugh Cathcart Thompson. He is the same architect who designed the Ryman!

Some of the Prettiest Historic Homes in America

“I also love all the houses on West Main. Throughout my novel, one of the main characters is restoring a house on West Main, and I based it on the Green-Blackburn house (formerly the Green-Moore house), though I did take a few artistic liberties in my descriptions. The wrap-around porch and turret room are my favorite parts of this house, plus it has a scandalous past. An interesting story always scores extra points in my book!”

Read Katie’s fascinating backstory “If These Walls Could Talk – The Unbelievable Story of the Green-Blackburn House.”

Finding Franklin Author Katie Shands – Misty Westebbe Photography

From Television Producer to Award-Winning Author

Katie’s first foray into journalism was in high school when she wrote for the school newspaper. After graduation, she went on to study Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She wrote for the university’s paper The Daily Beacon.

“During my senior year, I landed an internship at WBIR, Knoxville’s top-rated broadcast news station. After a few months, I was hired as a media tech, responsible for editing video, writing for the website, and various other technical jobs.

“Eventually, I was promoted to producer where I put together the weekend newscasts, the 10 and 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts, and Newsmakers, a weekly political show. I chose, assigned, and organized the stories, wrote the scripts, built graphics, and timed the show. I was the person talking to the anchors in their earpieces.” A career in broadcast news requires crazy hours, without breaks for holidays or severe weather. During times of ice storms, blizzards, or tornados, her job called for all hands on deck to cover the story. So when Katie and her husband, Daniel, decided to start a family, they made the decision that Katie would stay home to raise their children. They now have four young children all under the age of nine, Nora, Ellis, Lillian and Oliver.

Character Building, Plot Twists – Writing is Therapy

“Writing became a hobby for me, and I began to blog and dabble in fiction. I love writing purely for the sake of writing. It’s a form of therapy for me, an escape from the humdrum of daily life. Writing allows me to dream, to travel anywhere, to be anyone, to do anything. It gives me something to think about while I’m stuck in traffic, doing chores, etc. I map out stories, build characters, brainstorm plot twists, create new worlds. It’s great fun!

“God plays a huge role in my life, and I believe His guidance can dramatically improve any problem.”

Franklin, Tennessee – The Perfect Place to Raise a Family

The Shands Family

Historic preservation is one of the things Katie loves about Franklin. “Far too often, homes of historic significance are torn down in the name of progress. Brick by brick, our country’s history is being lost to the bulldozer. The mindset in Franklin is different, and the results speak for themselves.”

Her family’s favorite place to visit is Franklin’s historic downtown district. During the summer, we love to get ice cream at Sweet Cee Cee’s and listen to live music in the square. My kids love to explore the Williamson County Museum in the Archives Building and play in the fountain across the street.

This is Lovely Franklin

Buffie Baril & Katie Shands – Misty Westebbe Photography

“As a family, we attend the annual festivals and monthly art crawls and catch movies at The Franklin Theatre. Often, we will take evening walks through the neighborhoods, admiring the historic homes. It truly is a magical place with an endless list of things to do!”

Katie is currently working on her second novel about Franklin. It’s based on Franklin, Tennessee in the 1950’s. She titled it, A Song in the Night and hopes to have it ready for editing by her friend and fellow writer Chris Rosland next summer.

We asked Katie to describe her adopted hometown, Franklin, in one word. She said, “one-of-a-kind!”

You will love Katie’s book, Finding Franklin. It’s full of suspense and charm. Get a copy for yourself, and one for a friend. It’s that good!

Katie Shands – another reason we call this “Lovely Franklin.”

We are Lovely Franklin,

Lovely Franklin Brandon and Buffie

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