Discover the World of Keowee Valley

Katherine Scott Crawford is an award-winning writer, newspaper and magazine columnist, and college English teacher. She’s the author of Keowee Valley, an historical adventure set in the Revolutionary-era Carolinas and in the Cherokee country. Her parenting/outdoor life columns have appeared in newspapers across the United States and abroad, including U.S.A. Today, The Greenville News (S.C.), the Asheville Citizen-Times (N.C.), The Detroit Free PressThe Herald (Scotland), and many more.

“A glorious debut from a gifted author.”
-Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker’s Wife

Keowee Valley is a terrific first novel by Katherine Scott Crawford–a name that should be remembered.”
-Pat Conroy, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad

“Katherine Scott Crawford is a fresh and valuable new voice in Southern Literature.” -Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena and Saints at the River

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Enjoy the Keowee Valley Trailer

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Pandemic Parenting: Sending my kids back to school after 305 days at home

Our home schoolroom, empty now of my children.

Our home schoolroom, empty now of my children.

Today is the first day in 305 days that I have been away from both my children. The last time was March 12, 2020, when they went to school for the day before the Covid-19 pandemic changed all our lives forever.

Today, my kids went back to school. Now, I sit on my couch, drinking coffee, and frankly, trying to regroup. I feel simultaneous relief and the urge to throw up.

We have once again entrusted our children to the schools we love, and it feels like the first day of school in an alternate universe: the fear is there, the worry, the hope, and the faith, the desperate, crazy faith that it’ll all be okay.

I’d already been tired, but I think this is a weariness of the moment. Was I a successful homeschool mom? I like to joke that I’m a great camp counselor, but a subpar teacher, and looking back on the past 10 months—8 of which I was in charge of my kids’ education—I think that’s pretty accurate. Lord knows there were days I did my best, and others where it was a miracle we made it through. Teaching young kids, especially my own, has never been a tool in my varied but sometimes esoteric wheelhouse.

I have not worked in 305 days, we’re in the midst of home construction, and I need to get in shape in more ways than one. We’ve family who are not well and in hospital, and my stalwart husband is stretched far too thin. There is much to do. But right now, I am tired. I am sitting. I am praying my kids have great days at school, that middle school is uncharacteristically kind to my older daughter, that my children won’t become infected with Covid-19. That I’ve made the right decision out of a grab-bag of not-good options.

It’s not possible for me in this moment to feel any sort of pride in myself for the work of the past 305 days, or even relief in the quiet, but heavens, I’m hoping to get there.

 

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Entering the Festival of Lights – Happy Hanukkah!

hanukkah2Yesterday was the first day of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. Here’s a link to my newspaper column last year, in which I wrote about its history, with the help of some of my childhood friends.

To all my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah! Hannukkah Sameach!

Read the column here.

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Do your Christmas ornaments tell a story?

It’s difficult to play favorites. But my favorite Christmas ornaments are those which mean something specific: the ones collected on trips and adventures, those given me by friends, and those which hung on my grandparents’ tree.

A brief history (photos below):

orn11. Our chosen home. (And where my husband proposed.)

2. Senior year in college, Spring Break trip with my cousin and my dearorn2 college friend to visit my aunt in Alaska. My friend gifted me this: of course we’d skiied (cross country & alpine) and sat in hot tubs. #alaskaforever

3. The copper wolf I bought myself at age 26, in a tiny town in Montana, where I was a writer-in-residence at the Montana Artists Refuge (a gift of a month which changed my writing life).

orn3

4. My babies. Aren’t the preschool ornaments killers?

5. Lady Liberty, got at the Ellis Island Museum at the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York City, where my sister and I traveled withorn4 our mom to celebrate her 70th birthday.

6. George and Martha! From Mount Vernon, where I took my older daughter as part of a special, big-kid Spring Break when she was in 4th grade.

orn57. Ornaments from Colonial Williamsburg—the King’s Tavern and Governor’s Palace—from an after Christmas adventure with my in-laws. They gifted all of us the trip, and it was a ball.

8. A Nordic star, from Epcot’s Norway Pavilion, and an unforgettable orn6Disney trip with my parents, sister and her family (a Christmas gift from my parents to all of us).

9. A birthday gift (I’m a Sagittarius) from a dear friend, which entreats me to “listen.”

10. Two ornaments, old and precious, which hung on my grandparents’ tree. One of them spins from the heat; as a child I’d crawl as far as I could get under their Christmas tree and stare up into it, fully believing in magic.

orn7

Stories are light in the dark, and I can’t think of a better time for them than now. Do your Christmas ornaments tell a story? I’d love to hear it.orn9

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A Christmas Story for your Kindle

EvergreencoverLast December (what a different world!) I wrote and published Evergreen and Expectations: A Keowee Valley Christmas Story via Kindle. It’s a brief dive back into the 18th century, the Southern frontier, and a chance to spend Christmas with Quinn, Jack, and Ridge Runner, the protagonists from my 2012 historical novel, Keowee Valley.

Here’s the gist:

It is Christmas in the Keowee Valley. Over a year since Quincy MacFadden Wolf and her half-Cherokee husband, Jack, returned from adventures abroad, it should be a season of celebration and good cheer. Quite unlike herself, Quinn is surly and sad, longing for the good company of friends and family. But the Twelve Days of Christmas will bring surprising revelations and unexpected guests, and Quinn will discover she is capable of great purpose–and that she is more at home on the frontier than ever before.

Katherine Scott Crawford returns with a short story filled with characters from her awarding-winning historical novel. Set on the wild Carolina frontier in the years before the American Revolution, the Keowee Valley is still beautiful and mysterious, and Quinn and Jack a pair of lovers as rare and real as they ever were.

I wrote the story as sort of a Christmas gift to readers of Keowee Valley, those of you so faithfully asking for so long about when you’d get to read more. But really, I wrote it for myself. I’d missed Quinn, Jack, Ridge Runner, Fire Eater, their adventures, and the gorgeous and wild land which is their world, more than I’d thought. I also wanted to explore the history of what Christmas was really like on the frontier in those wild and woolly days, for the Cherokee people and settlers, including so many German families in the South Carolina backcountry, and more.

Right now, Evergreen and Expectations is FREE with Kindle Unlimited, and only 99 cents otherwise! I hope you check it out, and I hope you are having the happiest of holidays.

Keowee-Valley-screen

 

 

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Pandemic isolation and small divinities

A friend of mine posted yesterday a simple message asking us to offer compassion and even small gestures of kindness to ourselves and others. She’s a nurse, and so is her sister. To say this pandemic time has been hard feels woefully inadequate; anyone who knows a healthcare worker knows it’s getting harder. Too many people are suffering, in ways many of us, including myself, have yet to experience.

Lately, I’ve felt mostly the strain of isolation: a wave of grief mixed with my own over-analyzation about what suffragettemugrelationships this pandemic may have changed, on a number of levels. About how connections I’d assumed were solid have seemed to fade—due, perhaps, to all of us living daily under the combined pressures having to work, parent, cohabitate, and simply exist during a global pandemic. I know I’m not alone in these feelings because I’ve heard others express them, too … and I know most of us are putting one foot in front of the other, even in times of joy.

My brain works like this: The questions create more questions. I tend to hunker. All this is to say, over the past two days I was the recipient of the kindnesses my nurse friend mentioned. Dear friends reached out in small, personal ways: the gift of this perfect consignment store mug, a thoughtful note, a funny text, a walk around the block. And it’s no exaggeration to say that these were nothing less than small divinities, bright as an unexpected glimpse of stars, or the moon, through a break in the trees.

So I echo my nurse friend. Show compassion. Reach out. Offer a smile to a stranger (because even in a mask, we can all recognize a smile in the eyes). I will do the same, and we’ll get through this together.

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A Holiday Tattoo

couragedearheart

Okay, a temporary tattoo.

Happy week after Thanksgiving and first days of December. I don’t know how your Thanksgivings went. I’m sure they were complicated in more ways than one, but I hope they involved some relaxing, some good moments shared with the ones you love. This is how I’m transitioning from Thanksgiving to the Christmas season: coffee and a temporary tattoo. I wish for you courage and coffee, too.

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The Sully Show … just a little funny for your Tuesday

drquinn2Okay, funny story. And just for fun, because: 2020. Anyone who knows me knows I have a long-standing love (*cough* obsession) with frontier and Native culture, and the real people and characters who’ve populated it, past and present. I wrote an entire historical novel about it.

The last years of the TV show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman aired on CBS when I was a student at Clemson University. One year, I lived in an on-campus apartment with friends, and our neighbors were college athletes mixed in with us regular folk. Our best guy friends, some of whom were Clemson football players, lived across a concrete courtyard and upstairs from us: close enough we’d leave our doors open and shout for each other. They teased me mercilessly about the show—until they started watching it with me.

They were hooked! I’ll never forget those big guys crowded around our tiny apartment living room, too big for our furniture, jockeying for space in front of the TV. They would yell at me when we lost the remote! But the best part of all was on the nights the show came on, when the door to their apartment would fling open, and some college boy would yell across the courtyard, “Hey, T!” (because apparently “Katie” was too long of a name), “Is the Sully show on yet?”
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History, travel, books, author life & more: Interview with Paper Lantern Writers

PaperLanternWritersHi, folks!

I’m thrilled to be featured today on the blog at Paper Lantern Writers! Paper Lantern Writers are “a collective of Historical Fiction Writers, both published and unpublished,” whose “goal is to tell a cracking good story, using the context of history.”

It was lovely, especially in this wild and woolly time, to be asked fun and interesting questions about history, travel, books, writing, and more. It made me feel like a writer again. I thought the last two interview questions, especially, were particularly thoughtful–and I appreciated the chance to share.

Read the interview, “Words with a Wordsmith,” here.

And have an absolutely fabulous weekend, all!

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What I’m Reading Now: Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy

winternight trilogyOH FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE THESE STUNNING NOVELS BY KATHERINE ARDEN. They make me both want to genuflect at her feet and curse her at the same time. (Every writer knows this feeling.) It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a book I wished I’d written.

Reader, I’m still bewitched by this story, stumbling through a snow-filled, piney clearing while a bonfire cracks nearby in the dark. I don’t feel any review could do The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch any sort of justice. Get thyself to dark, snowy, magical medieval Russia forthwith. Steel yourself for a hero named Vasya.

Book recommendations by friends are the best. I’m ridiculously thankful for one of mine, who delivered this world to my door just when I needed it most.

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On the death of a friend: the writer, actor, and educator David Lee Nelson

I don’t really have the right words to properly honor my friend David Lee Nelson, who passed away this week from Stage 4 colon cancer. But the words of his childhood friends, who knew him much longer than I, have rung as sweet and as swift as a note on the air. Every one of them speak to Davey’s kindness, his rare sweetness. Many mention his wit and intelligence; his bright, unceasing energy, his talent, his often wickedly irreverent, unfailingly sharp, and unfathomably big-hearted sense of humor. So many honor his complicated mind, his intellect; his courage and goodness.

Davey and I met as freshmen (Class of 1996) at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, South Carolina. Over the years we were fellow theater kids, unbelievably lucky to attend a public school full of some of the most talented arts teachers in the country; a school where the arts were funded and where they flourished. Davey walked the halls in classic Chuck Taylors, his fantastic curls bouncing, with a swinging, energetic gait, a wry aside, and kindness in his beautiful eyes.

I struggled to find my place in high school. Inside I was an Arts kid through and through, but I skimmed the outer circles of several different groups, school-sponsored or otherwise. Davey did a lot, and was involved in a lot, but Davey was a theater kid—this is what I think about when I think about him. How singularly focused he was, how committed to his craft. How he tossed himself body and soul up onto the stage. How he knew, with absolute focus, that he was meant to act, to share himself and his stories in this way. This certainty and purpose, at such a young age, is more than talent. It’s a divine gift, and Davey Nelson did not squander it.

Often back then, Davey would talk to me, or look at me in a certain way as he listened, and I fizzed over with my own uncontained energy, and I would wonder what he was thinking. I wish I’d asked.

We reconnected several years ago, when Davey and another high school friend and classmate, the director Adam Knight, brought their fantastically fun and sharp-as-hell one man show, The Elephant in My Closet, to Greenville. My husband and I drove down from the mountains and met up with some of my best high school friends to watch. Afterwards, we went out downtown together. Sitting in a semi-circle, our non-stop conversation steamed up the glass front wall of the bar. We laughed and joked and recounted, smiles and commentary zinging through the air between us. That night, Davey had owned the stage. He’d been brilliant. He glowed. We were all just so damn happy together; it was one of those nights when you’re grateful beyond words to be alive and with these exact people, in this exact moment. I’ll never forget it.

Over the past two years, Davey and I reconnected over his writing of Hope in the Time of Chemo, a memoiric book of essays, based on his well-loved blog. Right now I’m trying very hard not to regret time lost being a better, closer friend to him, but instead to know, and be thankful for, the fact I knew him at all. He was an incomparable human, and people like Davey Nelson never leave you. I hope his parents, his sisters, and his wife, Jaimie—all of whom he loved fiercely and well, and who brought him incredible joy—know how much his friends grieve with them, and how thankful we are that they shared him with us.

Friends, please give to Fight Colorectal Cancer or your favorite cancer-fighting organizations, read Davey’s words here, buy his hilarious and touching book here, and hug your loved ones extra close tonight.

 Photos: Our Advanced Production Theatre class, 1996-1997, Wade Hampton High School
Bottom row: Davey winning all the things (I think this was for Senior Superlatives)

 

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