Reminder: Early Bird Special for MountainTop Writers Retreat + Shared Room option now available

IMG_6400Hi, writers and creatives (and other fine folks)!

Just a reminder that our Early Bird Special for Fall MountainTop, MountainTop Writers Retreat’s first pure retreat for women writers, is available to those who register by September 30th! 

Also: our Shared Room option is now up and running on the MountainTop Writers Retreat page at the Earthshine website. It will pop up when you click through to your cart during registration (before you pay). Note the lower price. 

Fall is almost here! Grab a fellow writer or creative and join us at Fall MountainTop November 8 – 11, 2019. A private lodge, peace and quiet, tall mountains, crisp air, and hours and hours of uninterrupted writing time await!

To register, click here.

* For more information, explore all the tabs beneath our MountainTop Writers Retreat page, above. And please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with questions at thewritingscott at gmail dot com. 

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How are we honoring the memories of those lost on September 11th, 2001?

flagEarly this morning in my kitchen, I stood over the makings of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my older daughter’s lunch, strawberry jelly dripping from my knife, and took a deep breath. My God, how much more American can you get than a mom making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I turned to my children at the breakfast table and said, “Today is September 11th. What do y’all know about today?”

It had occurred to me, suddenly, I don’t think I’ve ever talked with them about September 11, 2001. Or if I had, it had been so long ago my 10 year-old might not remember. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it with my 6 year-old. Inside me, my motherly instincts were at war: my 10 year-old is sensitive. If I told her too much, she wouldn’t sleep tonight. They are both so innocent–innocent in their joy, innocent in their acceptance of their world as solid and good. What right did I have to make a tear in that certainty?

When my daughters replied that they didn’t know anything about today, I said, “Well. Today is Patriot’s Day. We call it Patriot’s Day because a long time ago” (18 years is long to a kid, right?) “our country was attacked, and many people in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania were killed. So we honor them on this day, because whether they knew it or not, they gave their lives for our country.”

And that was it. Fairly pitiful, I admit. And certainly not the first time I’ve failed as a mother to explain hard stuff. But I wanted them to know. I didn’t want them to be at school and hear something without feeling informed. I felt it was important I at least try.

They both said, “Okay,” and turned back to their breakfasts.

It has been 18 years, and still my eyes well, still my throat closes and a wash of breathlessness moves through my body on September 11th. The feeling, in 2001, when I was 23 years-old, was a combination of utter disbelief coupled with a burgeoning fear. Now, at 41, the disbelief is quite gone. I know it was real: know the lives lost, my country changed forever and all of us with it. Now I am sad, and worried, and hopeful, all at the same time.

I know I’m far from the only American feeling this way today. I was not yet a mother in 2001, so I could not know, then, what those mothers and fathers felt on that day. The sheer enormity of their loss. The gaping holes left in their families and in the earth. In 2001, I spent hours that morning tracking down my parents and my sister on the phone. I imagined what it would have been like to lose them. I wondered what would come next: what rip in the fabric of a life and a country I’d thought had been superhero strong would be made without warning? When and where?

I will never forget. How can any of us alive on September 11, 2001, ever forget?

Over the course of the many September Elevenths since 2001–and especially the last few–I consider more how we are honoring, or how we have failed to honor, those Americans lost. I don’t mean honor by raising flags, and saying names, and posting tributes, though those efforts are ever so important and real. What I mean is: how have we existed, in the world, as Americans? As citizens of the United States? How have we gotten better, grown stronger in mind and heart, and at good work in the world? How have we extended the infinite and incalculable promise of the American experiment?

How have we worked to make all people, inside and beyond our borders, more free?

At their most basic level, the terrorist attacks of September 11th were a response to American freedom. But this notion of what it is to be free is as complicated and simple, as multi-colored as the American face. It does–or should–exceed religion, creed, race, gender, class. It is pluralistic. If it works, it is as the dispersion of light through a prism. It is what we have striven for in the United States, for better or worse, for more than 243 years.

I am easily overwhelmed by the weight of this responsibility to those killed on September 11, 2001. I fail more than I succeed, and especially in the past few years, I feel that my country and my government is largely failing those who died that day. We have, on so many levels, became base and bitter. Far too many of us have become short-sighted and mean.

I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but here’s what I’m doing. I’m parenting my kids the best way I know how. I’m trying–dear God, I am trying–to teach them the things I know to be American: to be open, kind, loving, hard-working, and big-dreaming. To feel that anything and everything is possible, as long as they walk and work with love in the world. This is how I felt as a child. How I felt before September 11, 2001–ideas I cling to in desperation and in hope.

But I also take a look in the mirror on September 11th. I force myself to admit my own part in the degradation of the American dream. How I may have become close-minded to those who think and believe differently than I do. How my empathy and my sympathy has at times hardened, crusting over my compassion. How I let weariness with the world stifle my innate desire to be as open, as good, as kind as I was made to be. How I let the dangerous myth of “it doesn’t matter what I say and do, or how I vote or feel” blunt my infinite promise as a human being.

If we want to honor this day and the people we lost, we take a long, hard look in the mirrors in our own homes, and in the mirror of our country. We own our actions, our speech, our missteps, our human tendencies to turn tribal, to doubt. We OWN it. And then we kiss our babies, open our doors, and walk out into a world it is our sacred duty to make better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MountainTop Writers Retreat: Frequently Asked Questions

IMG_6428Hi! If you’re new here, I’m Katherine: author, writer, hiker, mom, traveler, all-around book nerd and general life enthusiast. I’m also the Founder and Director of MountainTop Writers Retreats, a new retreat for writers and creatives hosted at a rustic-elegant lodge at 3,000 feet, in the breathtakingly beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.

Our first retreat, Fall MountainTop, will be held November 8 – 11, 2019, at Earthshine Lodge. Lately, I’ve been getting lots of questions about this retreat, and so I figured I’d post our FAQs here.

You can register for Fall MountainTop here. There’s an Early Bird Special for those who register before Sept. 30, 2019! Be sure, too to explore all the tabs beneath my MountainTop Writers Retreat page, above on this website. And after, if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me at thewritingscott at gmail dot com. Enjoy!

 

FAQs for Fall 2019 MountainTop Writers Retreat

I’ve never written a book, but I’ve always wanted to. Is this the retreat for me?

If you are looking for a pure writer’s retreat—a place of peace and quiet, and the time and space to write, and not a weekend of workshops, classes, or social time, then Fall MountainTop is for you! Fall MountainTop is crafted especially for authors and writers who need peace and quiet to work on or finish projects, but is available to any writer. If you are looking for workshops, career or manuscript advice, or lots of communal/social time, one of the other MountainTop Retreats will be more suited to you.

What should I bring?

Anything you need in order to write! (WiFi is available, though it’s not advisable to download or stream TV shows or movies.)

The dress code is casual, as this is a remote mountain property at an elevation of 3,000 feet. Bring comfortable clothes and shoes, and if you’d like to explore the property by hiking or taking a yoga class, bring proper footwear, hiking shoes, etc. Temperatures in November can be cold, especially at night, so bring warm, functional clothes and outerwear suited to the mountains, and be prepared to dress in layers. Casual to elevated casual is appropriate for most restaurants in nearby towns.

Is this a women-only event?

2019 Fall MountainTop Writers Retreat is a women-only event. There will be co-ed retreats in the future.

May I just book one night’s accommodation?

The rooms in the Lodge are reserved for full-time Fall MountainTop Writers Retreat participants.

I want to bring a friend/spouse/partner who is not a writer and will not be participating in the retreat. Can we share a room?

All accommodation is single occupancy or shared with a participating writer. This is because your room is intended to be a private, contemplative creative space where you can retreat to write.

Fall MountainTop Writers Retreat is intended to be just that: a pure retreat from the world, and from the day-to-day responsibilities and concerns all writers face. It’s a time to focus solely on your writing, with the gorgeous mountains as your backdrop.

You will return to your spouses, partners, families, pets, friends, and jobs with renewed creative energy—and hopefully lots of new pages! You will be all the better for having gifted yourself this time away from it (and them) all.

What’s your cancellation policy?

MountainTop Writers Retreats adheres to Earthshine Lodge’s cancellation policy. Please see this information at the Earthshine website.

Have another question?

Contact Katherine Scott Crawford at thewritingscott at gmail dot com.

TO REGISTER FOR THE 2019 FALL MOUNTAINTOP WRITERS RETREAT, CLICK HERE

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Amazing and unexpected things happen at the mountaintop

IMG_6426Amazing and unexpected things happen at the mountaintop. There’s just something about the solitude and quiet, the crisp air, being truly (maybe finally, for some of us) away from the noise that keeps creativity at bay.

This is why we founded MountainTop Writers Retreats: so writers and creatives are able to access that elusive place inside themselves where inspiration resides–and to grasp it for more than a moment. Working writers know the work takes sitting at the desk every day, whether we’re inspired or not. But it’s that vein of true magic, hard to locate in the everyday grind, which shows itself when we’re on retreat in a special place. 

Maybe–just maybe–it’s because we’ve gifted ourselves time and quiet, and the writer in us recognizes it … and opens a door. (Breath-taking mountain scenery helps, too.)

 

Join us at Fall MountainTop, November 8-11, 2019. This is a true retreat: no workshops or classes, just time to IMG_6427WRITE. Gift yourself this weekend away. Invest in your story.

Follow us on Instagram for more images, and check out our MountainTop Writers Retreat page for more information and to register. Be sure to explore the pages beneath for more information about the retreat, its Founder & Director (me), FAQs, and more.

* Photos here are of private writers’ balconies at the Lodge. Each room has one, with views of Earthshine’s 76-acre property. 

IMG_6403

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Returning to a novel project after time away

* If you’re looking for information about MountainTop Writers Retreats, our new pure writers’ retreats hosted in the mountains of Western North Carolina November 8 – 11, 2019, please click here

My desk this morning. Back at it!

My desk this morning. Back at it!

… continued from Instagram.

Returning to a long prose project–like a novel–after being a while away from it isn’t easy. Every writer is different, of course, but it usually takes time to settle back into the story. To, not unlike a hawk, find the best updraft, and lift.

I’ve been away from my historical novel manuscript since June. I looked at it, once, in late July, but the Fates conspired against me in mean and sundry ways … ways I may talk about later, but not now. And yes, the Fates can conspire against you. If you don’t believe me, just ask any girl in a fairy tale. (Or any writer trying to finish her second novel.)

I’m a working writer and a stay-at-home parent. I like it that way. A lot. But in summer, this means my writing is set aside out of sheer necessity. I have a 10 year-old and a 6 year-old, and summer is our time. To say I cherish it would be a massive understatement. That being said, trying to write a novel from home with two very active young daughters and a three year-old black Lab is an exercise in madness. It just doesn’t work, at least for me, and at least not in this particular season of our lives. It took me years to realize this.

So. My kids are back in school, and here I sit, at my desk and with my new historical novel, for the first time, really, all summer long. Typically, what I would do in this situation is to read back through what I’ve written–to get a feel for where I am in the story, to get to know my characters again, before typing new pages. However, I’m at about 300 pages–about 20,000 words, give or take, from being finished with the first draft of this novel. If I sat down to read it right now, it would take me several hours. I’d likely finish reading just as it came time to pick my kids up from school. Re-reading might even spill over into tomorrow’s writing time–my “office hours,” as I like to call them–and that just won’t do.

This process of writing a second historical novel, a type of story that in voice and even style is very different from the first, has been a trip. When I wrote my first novel, Keowee Valley, I was a childless college professor in her 20s. By the time Keowee Valley was published, I was a college professor and a graduate student with a toddler and a baby on the way. Now, seven long years after publication, I’m close–so close–to finishing my second novel, my children are finally both in real school, and if I’m honest with myself, I’m a different person. The same, but different. I like to think I’m better.

But back to the novel manuscript. Will spending so much time away from it, and then jumping in, change the story? Will it change the way my characters act, how they speak to each other and to themselves? Will it make the plot feel disjointed, off? The truth is, it might. But this is life. This is the writer’s life–especially a stay-at-home writer with kids. Especially mine.

Now, I know what I didn’t back when I was a writer in her 20s. I know I’ll figure it all out.

 

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Now offering writers retreats in the gorgeous mountains of Western North Carolina

profilepicI’m thrilled to announce: MountainTop Writers Retreats are live!

Our first retreat is Fall MountainTop, November 8 – 11, 2019.

Are you a writer craving peace, quiet, solitude, and inspiration? The time and space in which to write, to think, to dream? With accommodations at a private, rustic-elegant lodge, at 3,000 feet of elevation in the mountains of Western North Carolina, miles of unspoiled national forests at your feet–and an ancient, soul-stirring view which stretches as far as the eye can see?

Would you like to choose when and where you interact with other writers in retreat, enjoy roaring fires in stone fireplaces, walks on wooded trails, fireside or mountain-view yoga, boxed lunches delivered to the door of your private room? Would you like to swing in a hammock, rock in a rocking chair, sit by a mountain pond, or drink coffee on your private balcony as the mountains awake?

Are you ready to invest in your writing, and in your creative self? Or, do you just need the solitude and the peace ofIMG_6475 the high country in order to meet deadlines, finish projects, or produce a large chunk of work you just can’t manage in the bustle and background noise of your daily life?

2019 Fall MountainTop Writers Retreat is for you. 

Appropriate Links:

  • Access information about MountainTop Writers Retreats, our current retreat offered, info about me (the Founder & Director), FAQs, photos of retreat accommodations, our social media, and more hereBe sure to explore each tab beneath the MountainTop Writers Retreat page on this website.
  • For more information about Earthshine Lodge, the Retreat venue, and to register, click here

IMG_5323Still have questions? Please email thewritingscott at gmail dot com.

 

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Friday lines: Scene from my novel-in-progress; or, “Woman from the future”

deskHappy Friday! Hope y’all enjoy this scene from the first (and very rough) draft of my historical novel-in-progress. For more about the story, and other scenes, go to my Work in Progress page.

* Woman from the future *

72 Tradd Street, Charleston ~ October, 1804

“What is your name?” Daniel asked, slow, as if she might spook like an unbroken colt.

Startled, the woman looked at him. She rubbed her hands along her knees, and fingered a spot where the thin material had caught on something, the rip there exposing her skin. With a sudden, piercing clarity, Daniel wanted nothing more than to run his own finger along that line of white skin. He cleared this throat.

“It’s Gamble,” she said. “Gamble Vance. And you are?”

“I am Daniel Petigru. It is our pleasure, my sister Honor’s and mine, to offer you respite and aid you on your way.” How stilted he sounded, but then, he was nervous. And how strange she use her own name, and not her husband’s. Clearly she was married, or had been: there was a white line on her finger, indicating a ring had sat there, once. And she was of an age … or perhaps she was a widow.

“From wherever did you come?” Honor asked, abandoning all pretense of propriety. There was no answer.

“Madam Vance,” Daniel said. But at the woman’s blue-eyed glance, containing—it seemed to him—both fear and challenge, he hesitated. “Or is it Miss?” Good God, man, he thought. Why not come right out with it and ask if she is married?

“It’s madam … or was,” she said. “But I prefer Gamble.” She straightened in her chair, cupping her knees. She gripped at the joints, white showing at her knuckles. “Please tell me, what year is it?”

“Year?” Honor said, stunned. “Why, it’s 1804. Do you not know?”

“That’s what I figured, but I needed to hear it.” She cleared her throat, and Daniel watched the movement at her slender neck, wondering what she would say next. He could not hazard a guess.

“I was born in Asheville, which is a town in the mountains of North Carolina. Which doesn’t exist yet,” she said. “But I come from Charleston. From the year 2004.”

***

Daniel Matthew Petigru considered himself to be a bit of a revolutionary. He was born in 1765, in a revolutionary decade. He was an artist, after all—had toured and painted all over Europe, apprenticed under the masters, lived in Rome and Paris until the revolution there had become too bloody even for the artists. He’d only returned home to Charleston to care for his sister after the deaths of their parents.

In Charleston, he had made a home with Honor, their living from family money—their father had been a successful rice broker—and made from his own art. He knew himself to be a driven man, often [check idiom] losing sight of everything and anyone around him. Before he’d left Europe, he had been entirely concerned with portraiture in miniature—an ancient practice, its origins in the Middle Ages, though a mode of artistry people still considered most unusual. Thankfully, miniatures were all the rage in Charleston. He painted them for whomever commissioned him, and had painted over fifty in 1804 alone. Honor said he was obsessed.

Still, despite his unusual trade and knowledge of the world, Daniel could not conceive of Gamble’s origins. It wasn’t that he did not believe her. Anyone who met the lady was sure to be convinced by her strength of character, her keen and obvious intelligence. But to travel through time? From 200 years in the future? It was a most incredible proposition.

“I believe her,” Honor announced, and Gamble smiled, tension leaving her elvish face. For Daniel was certain he’d seen, somewhere in a book in Copenhagen, the face of a yellow -haired elf who looked exactly like her.

“Thank you,” Gamble said.

Daniel stood. “Yours is a tale we most certainly want to hear,” he said. “But I believe Gamble”—he hesitated briefly over the use of her given name, yet charged on—“is in need of a rest in a room of her own, and perhaps the loan of a gown?”

“Yes, quite,” Gamble said. Then the woman stood and rolled her head on her neck, just as a boxer does before he enters the ring. It made Daniel smile. She was captivating.

They stood there, smiling at each other, until Honor said, “Yes, well, do come with me, madam. We are not of a height, but our mother was about your size. One of her frocks should do.”

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Weekly Lines: “Cars and curricles”

Hi! It’s been a while, folks. Writing in the summertime when your kids are at home is a bit like running the gauntlet. (Yes, gauntlets have been around since people were basic brutes and rarely end well for the runner. No, I’m not exaggerating.) That being said, here’s a scene from the *first* draft of my historical novel-in-progress. For more scenes, and a brief overview of the story, go to my Work-in-Progress page.

www.pinterest.com

www.pinterest.com

* Cars and Curricles”

Daniel stared at Gamble across the enclosed carriage. Beside him, Honor did the same. It was rude, he knew, but he just couldn’t help himself and, perhaps, neither could Honor. Gamble was most assuredly not of this time. At the Drayton’s ball, she was sure to attract notice first for being new, then for being beautiful, and last for being odd. When Ben helped her into the carriage moments before, she’d taken his gloved hand, stopped on the hitching step [check], and then bounced up and down on the balls of her feet—on purpose—as if it was a joggling board, and she a child. [check]

“The past is a kick,” she’d declared, on a loud and joy-filled laugh.

Truly, the woman was a grenadier. Who knew what bomb she would throw next, and into a crowd?

Her appearance was an illusion, for she was the picture of innocence, with her wild yellow hair (which she refused to let Honor or Effie curl into anything a la mode) her flushed pink cheeks and giant blue eyes. From the appearance of her gown when she and Honor had met him at the carriage, she must have at least allowed for stays. But she knew more about the world, their world, than they did of hers—certainly knew what would happen, years in the future. If it had been left up to Daniel, he’d have kept them all at home for the evening and plied Gamble with food, drink, and questions.

“You look wonderful in Mother’s gown,” Honor said. “Doesn’t she, Daniel?”

At first, Daniel wasn’t sure he could answer. When Honor and Gamble had exited the house, Effie trailing behind with their cloaks, he had been caught off his guard. The dress Gamble wore was his mother’s to be sure, which meant that it was at least a decade old and certainly out of current mode. But that did not matter, for it was stunning on her.

He remembered his mother in it, or at least could remember her coming down the stair in it. More, Daniel remembered his father’s reaction. His mother had been petite, as was Gamble, with hair not as wild as the woman’s from the future, but a similar kinship blonde. Because the dress was a bright teal, bordered with decorative gold-stitched accents on the sleeves, high waist, and hem—the rich color one unique to ladies’ ball gowns as he knew them—it brought out the flush in his mother’s cheeks, the gilt in her hair. He could tell, even before his father told her she was beautiful, his mother had felt it for herself.

When Gamble emerged from the house, framed by the painted black door and the tawny color of the stucco behind—a scene almost Italian in its sumptuousness and hue—Daniel knew, suddenly, what it meant to have his heart skip a beat.

Gamble wore a velvet Spencer jacket of deep blue, one loaned from Honor. It was new, the loan of it evidence of Honor’s swift and growing affection for the woman. A woman who had only been with them one day. A woman who was certain to leave them, should she have the chance to return to her own time.

Daniel met Gamble’s eyes. “Yes, she does,” he said.

Ben called out a greeting to a passing curricle and that driver called back. Gamble leaned forward, pushing back the curtain at the window, letting the cold in. She poked her head outside. The lamps were already lit all the way down Tradd Street. When the carriage turned south [check] onto Broad she clung to the door during the turn to steady herself.

“Whatever is she doing?” Honor whispered to Daniel, louder than he would have liked.

“I’m looking at the world,” Gamble said, overhearing and not bothering to hide it. “It’s incredible.” She sat back onto the bench with a broad grin.

“Do you hear it?” She asked them.

Daniel and Honor looked at each other in confusion. “Hear what?” Daniel said.

“The clatter of horses’ hooves on the cobblestones. The hiss of the gas lamps. The rush and crackle of the wind in the palmettos.” Gamble shook her head as if in disbelief, then held out her hands, palms up, like a woman begging for something in response.

“There’s no background noise!” she said, voice rising with excitement. “No noise of the busy world, polluting everything. No music blaring. No cars. I bet tonight, if we were to walk to the harbor, there’d be a million stars in the sky. I bet if we climbed the steeple at St. Michael’s, we’d be able to see for miles. But the quiet, oh—it’s the loveliest thing I’ve never heard in my life.”

“What is a car?” Honor asked, before Daniel could.

 

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Join me at the Midsummer Reading Retreat: June 28-30 at Earthshine Lodge in NC

Looking out from Earthshine Lodge over the Pisgah National Forest in N.C.

Looking out from Earthshine Lodge over the Pisgah National Forest in N.C.

Perhaps you’ve heard of weekend writers’ or artists’ retreats, yoga or meditative retreats, or others? How about a Reading Retreat: an entire weekend devoted to simply reading books, and if you’re in the mood for it, discussing your favorite new books?

And what if this Reading Retreat was to take place at an elevation of 3,000 feet in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, at a rustic-elegant lodge bordering the Pisgah National Forest? What if there were Literary Book Chats, cocktail hours, a fire pit, and there was to be yoga, guided meditation, and hiking? And, oh yeah: time to hang out with me, and talk about books, writing, and whatever else tickles your fancy? What if you could attend by yourself, or bring a friend?

I don’t know about y’all, but it sounds downright lovely. Booky people, after all, are the best people.

Ready to talk books!

Ready to talk books!

Come meet me in the mountains! The Midsummer Reading Retreat will be held June 28-30, 2019 at beautiful Earthshine Lodge in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. For more information about the retreat, and to register, go to www.earthshinenc.com.

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New article: “Looking Ahead to Summer in Brevard”

Hi, folks. My newest freelance article is up at Fisher Realty (Brevard, NC). Here’s to summertime in the mountains!

To read, click here.

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