Telling stories to the world from the heart of a national forest

By Noble Sprayberry

Laurel Heidtman lives on a plot of private land within the 
Daniel Boone National Forest.

Laurel Heidtman lives on a plot of private land within the 
Daniel Boone National Forest.

Most days, Laurel Heidtman has a goal: Write 1,000 words. “You don’t wait for inspiration,” she says. “You get out the first draft, and then you clean it up later.”

That work ethic helped the 68-year-old complete three self-published novels.

Heidtman lives with her husband, Earl, inside Daniel Boone National Forest on a 12-mile peninsula extending into Cave Run Lake. While the home has become her favorite place to write, it’s not the first spot where she’s practiced her craft.

Earlier in her life, she worked a range of jobs, including as a technical writer, police officer and a nurse.

Books_6518-The consecutive off days that followed 12-hour nursing shifts gave her downtime to dabble with writing fiction. She wrote three romance novels, submitted two of them to Harlequin and got two rejection letters. “I got nice rejections, if there is such a thing,” she remembers.

Even though the rejections included positive feedback, she put novels aside for years.

After retiring in 2008, Heidtman decided it was time to return to the books, and she spun one of her original romance novels into a mystery: “Catch a Falling Star.”

She self-published, offering the book online through services such as Amazon.

But, she wasn’t ready to give up romance novels. For “The Boy Next Door” and “The Wrong Kind of Man,” she took the pen name Lolli Powell. “It was a combination of my family nickname and my maiden name,” she says.

Living 10 miles from the nearest county road, broadband connects Heidtman to the world.

Living 10 miles from the nearest county road, broadband connects Heidtman to the world.

Romantic advice
Despite being isolated in one of the few houses inside the national forest, Heidtman connects to a community of writers over her broadband Internet connection, which also allows her to market her novels.

“That just blows me away,” she says. “I’m 10 miles from a county road, but we have fiber Internet.”

She found help from an online community that includes writers in Germany and Memphis, Tennessee.

Heidtman understands she needs to build an audience. “Right now, it trickles in,” she says. “I might go several days with no sales, and then I might get one or two. It’s a start.”

She has contacted libraries throughout Kentucky, resulting in at least two book signings. She also plans to attend book fairs.

And while Heidtman strives to expand her audience, she continues to work from a wired home in the heart of a scenic forest. “It’s the best of both worlds,” she says. “You’re able to sit here and make friends across the world.”