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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MountainTop Writers Retreat News: Early Bird Special extended, new (additional) discount, and more!

IMG_6853I’m thrilled to announce three changes to MountainTop Writers Retreat’s inaugural retreat for women writers and creatives: Fall MountainTop, November 8 – 11, 2019.

  • First, we’ve extended the Early Bird Special through 11:59 p.m. October 17, 2019. 
  • Second, we’ve added an additional discount code. At registration, use MTNWRITE for 10% off. 
  • Third, you will now pay half the retreat fee when you register, and half when you arrive at the retreat.  

It’s going to be a glorious Fall weekend in the mountains. A perfect getaway before the rush of the holiday season, which keeps many of us writers from being able to write as much as we’d like.

And it will be quiet … oh, the lovely quiet. Please share with your creative friends!

For more information about the retreat itself, see all the information beneath my MountainTop Writers Retreat page, above. To register for 2019 Fall MountainTop, click here

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Last day for the Early Bird Discount to MountainTop Writers Retreat, Nov. 8 – 11, 2019

earlybirdHi, all!

Today is the last day of the Early Bird Discount for MountainTop Writers Retreat’s inaugural retreat for women writers, Fall MountainTop: Nov. 8-11, 2019

Invest in your writing. Write your book. Give yourself this gift of uninterrupted creative time in a gorgeous, peaceful, and inspiring place.

Come write in the mountains this Autumn, high among the trees, ancient mountains at your feet. Breathe deep. Open yourself to the mystery. Write. Write more. 

For more information, see our MountainTop Writers Retreat page (and subsequent pages beneath). If you still have questions, I’m happy to answer them. Contact me at thewritingscott at gmail dot com.

To register for Fall MountainTop, click here

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My novel anniversary: Seven years later + a GIVEAWAY

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* If you’re looking for information about MountainTop Writers Retreats, click here. And don’t forget the Early Bird Special for our inaugural women’s retreat, Fall MountainTop, runs now through Sept. 30th!

Seven years ago today my debut novel was published. It was September 27, 2012, and my life looked very different than it does now. For one, I had a toddler, and I was pregnant. My old trail dog, Scout, was still alive. I was a college professor slogging through graduate school, with a traveling husband.

It was a big day for me. My novel, Keowee Valley, had been a dream whose fruition I’d spent years working towards–with my mind, body, and heart. The novel was steeped in a history (the 1760s), in a place (the wild Carolina frontier), and in a people (the Cherokee and colonial settlers of Charleston, South Carolina and the Southern Appalachians) I’d spent a lifetime studying. Particularly during the two years I was researching and writing the novel, when I hiked, paddled, horseback rode across, and drove the settings in my story–not to mention the hours I spent in museums and libraries.

Many writers like to say a book or a novel they’ve written is “a love letter” to a particular place or age in their lives. But Keowee Valley really was my love letter to the South Carolina Upcountry and the Western North Carolina mountains. It was an outpouring of gratitude and awe for the place where I was born and raised, and where I still to this day feel my soul is most itself.

Here’s a bit from the Prologue. Maybe you’ll see what I mean:

Some of the gorgeous ink drawings at the headings of Keowee Valley's chapters. Done by the artist James Pharr.

Some of the gorgeous ink drawings at the headings of Keowee Valley’s chapters. Done by the artist James Pharr.

My story begins before the fall, in that Indian summer time when the hills are tipped with oncoming gold, and the light hangs just above the trees, dotting the Blue Ridge with gilded freckles. The mornings and the evenings are cool, but it is the mornings I remember most: waking before the men, wrapping a shawl around my shoulders and slipping out through the fields, the dry grass crunching beneath my boots. Drifting down from Tomassee Knob the mist would spread over the Keowee Valley in great, rivering pools of gray, the sun rising in the east flecking the horse’s breath–suspended in the air before their nostrils–with slivers of shine. It was then the whole world was quiet, no crows eating my corn, the peacefulness not even broken by the bay of some wolf on the ridge, calling to the still-lit moon in the western sky. The whole world was silent then, and the Blue Ridge breathed beneath the deep purple earth. I thought I could feel it, a great heart beating in the wilderness. 

I was 26 years-old when I began writing this novel, though it had percolated in my mind since I was a child. Now, I sometimes think I threw everything in it but the kitchen sink. (Probably, I’d've thrown that in, too, if kitchen sinks had been around in the 1760s.) I wanted an epic adventure story, a love story, a history story, a cultural story, a story steeped in place. I wanted horses, and Cherokee culture, and an early feminist heroine; I wanted colonial Charleston, the frontier, battles and blood and famous Americans; I wanted mixed-race heroes, humor, war. I even wanted Italy, where I’d traveled the summer before I began writing. I wanted, more than anything, to create a world so vivid readers could sink into and not want to leave.

All this is to say, there’s a chance (okay, a big chance) I was over-ambitious. First novel and all. Looking back now, there are so many things I’d do differently. There’s so much I would change if I could (including asking my publisher to place the Glossary of Cherokee Words and Phrases at the beginning of the novel, rather than the end, so readers would know it was there). This is why a novel becomes something an author must release, like a biologist releasing a wolf back into the wild after rehabilitation. The novel, like the wolf, never really was yours–it never really belonged to you–in the first place.

I was astounded by the many authors who agreed to “blurb” the book. This is a process by which a writer must beg other writers to read an advanced copy of their novel, and to say something nice about it, which the publisher then puts on the cover of said novel. I was a nobody, but I reached out to some of the authors I admired most, and they responded with nothing short of grace. Pat Conroy, Adriana Trigiani, Ron Rash, Beverly Swerling, Tommy Hays, Elise Blackwell, and the late Kathryn Stripling Byer (former NC Poet Laureate), said things I still can’t believe about Keowee Valley. New author friends with whom I’d corresponded while writing the book, like historical novelists Philip Lee Williams and the wonderful Darci Hannah wrote the loveliest things. And book reviewers–so many book reviewers–took the time to write about my books on their blogs, to interview me, and to ask the most incredible questions.

The friendships I have developed with other writers because of Keowee Valley were the greatest gift of all. If I had to

A rendering of the Keowee Valley, by artist James Pharr

A rendering of the Keowee Valley, by artist James Pharr

list them here, I’d run out of space with my gushing. I’ve bonded with writers from  my own backyard, from states away, and from Canada. When I worry about the long span of time it’s been since I’ve published another novel–and, trust me, there have been times I’ve wanted to tear my hair out over it–I think of these friendships and the joy and comfort they have brought me.

And if I even attempted to put to words what the support from family members and friends meant to me, I’d be a weepy mess.

It hasn’t been easy since Keowee Valley was published on Sept. 27, 2012. Life, as we all know, can be about as easy to predict as a tornado. However, here I am, 7 years later, and–for now at least–writing is going well. I’m nearly finished with the first draft of a new novel. I have plans for a book of essays based on the newspaper column I wrote for five years. And I’m enjoying writing.

All of this could end tomorrow, of course: the book industry is mercurial and trends change weekly, and editors are subjective about what they decide to take on (this is a massive understatement). But this is the writer’s life, and it’s one I’ve chosen just as it simultaneously chose me.

So. In celebration of Keowee Valley turning 7 years old today, I’m giving away a free copy. All you have to do is respond in the comments here with the following: Who is your favorite (or least favorite) character from the novel, and why? I want details!

You have until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2019 to respond. I’ll put all the responses in a hat and let my kids draw a name without looking. And we’ll have a winner.

P.S. Keowee Valley is available in both print and e-book versions at Amazon, from independent bookstores (like my town’s wonderful Highland Books), and anywhere books are sold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Early Bird Special for MountainTop Writers Retreat through September 30, 2019!

Hi, all!

meatyellowdoorI spent a lovely morning up at Earthshine Lodge in Lake Toxaway, N.C., with Karin Stickland, a photographer from Bold Life magazine. (That’s the yellow door at the Lodge entrance behind me.) They’re doing an upcoming piece on MountainTop Writers Retreats and on Fall MountainTop, our inaugural retreat for women writers and creatives Nov. 8 – 11, 2019.

The humidity has left the mountains, and a cool breeze blew in over the national forest. Because of all this dry weather, forecasters here are predicting a delay in our Fall colors–which means it will be glorious here in early November.

Don’t forget the EARLY BIRD SPECIAL for those who register by viewrockersSeptember 30th! For more information, check out the MountainTop Writers Retreat page (and drop-down pages) above, register here, or contact me directly at thewritingscott at gmail dot com for more information.

I can’t wait to see these gorgeous mountains decked out in Autumn! 

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It’s the Autumnal Equinox! (or, Happy First Day of Fall)

11235834-autumn-appalachian-hiking-trail-foggy-nature-blue-ridge-fall-foliage-bridge-near-grandfather-mountaiAutumn, how I love thee! Let me count the ways….

Or rather, let me link you to my newspaper column from last year, when I waxed poetic–or at least enthusiastically–about the arrival of Fall.

I really miss writing my column, and I miss connecting with you all.

To read “How will you enjoy Autumn’s ‘golden days,’” click here.

P.S. If you’re at your last “free” article, simply Google “Katherine Scott Crawford Autumn’s golden days.” It should pop up. 

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A great Fall farm festival benefiting folks with ASD and their families

starlightHi, all! If you’re in the Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina area, or maybe you’re up for a road trip to the mountains, this one’s for you.

This Saturday, September 21st from 4 – 8 p.m., Full Spectrum Farms in Cullowhee, N.C. will host Starlight Night. Full Spectrum Farms is a working farm serving individuals of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and their families. Full Spectrum Farms has a wonderful mission, and does so much good work in the community. Check them out here.

Starlight Night is their big benefit of the year: a family-friendly day on the farm and

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under the stars, with hayrides, BBQ, live music, raffles, silent auctions, games, kids’ theater, and more. One of my dearest friends is the farm’s director, and we love to support her and the good work she and everyone at Full Spectrum Farms does in our mountain community. Plus, Starlight Night is just a fun evening, and it’s beautiful there. It’s the perfect way to welcome Fall!

Tickets are $25 per person, or $50 per family (two adults + up to 4 children). Available at the door. I hope you’ll come out!

Live music at Starlight Night

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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. 

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