From Dawn to Dusk – #uk2k16

day1Oh it seems way too long since I returned from my ‘heart home’ in England, but I love getting to revisit the memories and pictures of the trip.

Today, I’m taking you with us on day #2 – London.

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep and a great English breakfast can do for energy levels.🙂 And boy, did we need the energy for THIS day!

 

We started our morning with a 25 minute walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral to meet our Christian Heritage Tour guide on the steps.

day2Peter Greyling was such a wealth of wonderful knowledge, taking us on a two hour walk through some of the quieter streets of London to learn more about the less popular stories of Christianity.

We walked in areas where the Wesley brothers had walked and hear their stories. Learned of martyrs, world war veterans, and early Christian fathers – all who walked along the same paths we walked. It was pretty spectacular.

We visited the church where the Wesley brothers preached, saw day2bthe remains of the 2000 year old Roman wall, touched WW2 bomb marks on the walls of buildings, and even stubmled upon the street where “Sherlock Holmes” died (in BBC’s/Benedict Cumberbatch version). (Note Lydia’s ecstatic expression about this little discovery)

 

 

Then we toured the gothic and historic Westminster Abbey. Being among the tombs of so many powerful people of history was an interesting and humbling experience. The day2 sherlockarchitecture, age, and overall beauty only enhanced the awareness of memories painting the walls. At noon, a clergyman addressed the group to engage in corporate prayer for the nation and world. I was glad to be a part of the prayer, because despite the fact that some in the crowd may not have prayed at all, I knew to Whom I prayed….and that He was listening.

After a brief chat with a very nice policeman in the giftshop of Westminster (I tend to talk to EVERYBODY), we went to lunch at St. Martin’s in the Crypt. Yes, you read that right. THE CRYPT. We had lunch in a crypt. (and not creepy). We met another tour guide here, a guy who became an instant friend, day2westminsterKeith Berry, historian and past of New City Church in Hammersmith🙂 Keith took us on a tour of the British Museum, where we focused particularly on some Biblically significant ancient history. Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian….all these priceless artifacts were housed in this building and many were thousands of years old.

Of course we saw the Rosetta Stone, mummies, and even some fashions of different times, but the ancient wall carvings and paintings were my favorites. Why? Because they told stories🙂

We headed through St. James Park where hundreds of people day2jenjoyed the balmy day with by having picnic lunches on the grass, and of course we spied Buckingham Palace along the way. We also saw beautiful window boxes filled with flowers (I have a weakness for lovely window boxes).

And then we traveled to the British Library to check out the “Treasures” Room….filled with manuscripts from centuries old to more modern (you know, 1600s ), just kidding – it had handwritten lyrics from the Beattles😉. This room houses original copies of The day2oGutenberg Bible, Magna Carta, Leonardo DiVinci’s notebook, Shakespeare’s handwritten notes, King Henry VIII’s letters, an original copy of Utopia, and so much more.

We stopped for a bite to eat before heading to the theatre!! What a fun treat to watch a live production of Into the Woods in a small intimate theatre called The Chocolate Factory (where, of course, I had to eat some chocolate). It was a small cast with amazing talent!

The night ended with a walk back to our hotel over London Bridge. What a great day!!

Exhausted and Excited – #uk2k16 Day 1

13776008_10210067010972508_5532403140913924437_nAs some of you know, I just came back from a quick trip to the UK with my husband and two of my kids. What you may not know is that this was a ‘celebration’ trip for our eldest son, Benjamin, who graduated in June and has received a substantial scholarship to a small liberal arts college. As a reward for him, a ‘memorial’ for his Grammy who passed away in January, AND an introduction for Ben to the world of travel, we embarked on his fast and furious adventure.

Our 16 year old son, Aaron, didn’t want to come along, so we took our 14 year old daughter, Lydia, instead. The three other kids 13775350_10210067014332592_8000029728366857675_nstayed with my parents who were so gracious to take them for 8 days. (Btw, the kids had a BLAST)

So, I’m going to give you guys a little bit of the ‘behind the snaps’ look at our trip. Of course I’ll share pics, but I’ve posted all of them on FB. Here is where I tell a little bit MORE about the trip.

We were grateful to have two wonderful guides for this week. Peter and Ilona Greyling are part of a wonderful group known as Christian Heritage Tours, where they take you behind the basics and help you explore the historical Christian threads running through so much of the UK (and beyond).  Their website is here: http://www.christianheritagelondon.org/

13654293_10210067015212614_9069452768526187829_nArriving at 7am in Heathrow, we spent the next hour and a half making it through customs, getting our bags (Lydia’s did not arrive), and exchanging our money. Benjamin brought money he’d saved just for the trip with the sole purpose of purchasing books.

Ilona met us outside baggage claim and it was off to the city. We checked into our nice hotel (Premiere Inn Monument) and Ilona made certain they gave us a family room. One thing of note – England is NOT prepared for bigger families🙂 The cars are small and the hotel rooms are too. If you plan to travel with 3 or more kids, definitely plan on finding a guesthouse/rental house of some sort. Estate cars will travel 5 fairly comfortable, but to travel with more people you’d have to hire a 7 seater or an MPV (but if you hire a 7 seater you may not have room for luggage since the last 2 seats fold out from the boot of the car). A MPV is our version of a minivan, basically.

13781742_10210067018172688_1766641020316951281_nBUT….since we had escorts, we didn’t have to hire a car. London was our base of operation for most of the trip. Our sites for our first day were a City Cruise of London down the Thames, The Tower of London, ending with evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The streets were crowded, construction slowed the city buses, and the temp rose to a sweltering 87 (super high for London). Pair that with no sleep for over 24 hours, and the crew was wilting by 3pm🙂

13654254_10210067021732777_4420597961720246858_nThe Tower of London and evensong were the highlights of this day. People do not use the wonderful guides at tourist sites very well. These people are a plethora of knowledge and REALLY want to share. I asked the first guide at the Tower one question and he took us basically on a private tour of the armory at the Tower, giving us detailed information we might not have gotten otherwise.

A women’s choir brought the music at evensong at St. Paul’s. Oh my goodness. The buildings is pure artestry. Vibrant colors explode from the enormous domed ceiling high above, lined with such gold it’s almost glistening. It’s certainly set an ‘awe’struck scene.

Needless to say, Ben and I took on the challenge of mastering the Tube by the end of the week – and the four of us were grateful to collapse for sleep after our first day.

A few notes:

Londoners are posh dressers

The Tube is surprisingly quiet

People were friendly – super friendly. They don’t usually initiate the conversaionts (like we do in the south) but once the conversation starts, they’re fantastic.

For some fun videos from our first day, check out these links🙂

ACFW- Pre-Conference Mixer

pepperquiltlaughingHey hey all!! What a great summer! And more is still to come!

My friend and alleycat, Laurie Tomlinson, started up this great idea of having a little pre-conference mixer for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference that takes place each year in the ‘fall’. This year it’s actually more of a ‘summer’ time, but it’s a wonderful meeting of the creative minds of Christian fiction.

Laurie’s designed this little link up of questions to answer to people going to conference can learn a little more about each other and people who ‘drop-in’ to the conversation can also get a little snapshot of various authors🙂

So….below you’ll find my answers to the mixer. Hope you enjoy!

Name: Pepper Basham

Location: Asheville, NC

What you write/tagline/trademark: I write contemporary and historical romance / “Blue Ridge romance peppered with grace and humor”

Place in the book world:  I’m a multipublished author in both historical and contemporary romance. My debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, is a Carol finalist for the debut category!! My fourth novel comes out in November and I have a very busy publishing year coming up in 2017! I’m agented by the wonderful Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Have arms. Will hug.

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Not a coffee drinker but I love tea!! Hot tea, iced tea (as long as it’s southern sweet😉

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Fun topics? Super heroes, Jane Eyre, Lord of the Rings, writing, England. More serious topics? Theology, culture

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: Hubs of 21 years, Dwight, and my 5 kiddos – Ben (18), Aaron (16), Lydia (14 – who wishes she could come too), Samuel (11), and Phoebe (9 3/4 – right now she’s very specific on mentioning she’s 9 3/4 years old. Very important number to her) We also have a furry cutie named Samson.

Conference goals we can pray for? A few things. For my heart I’d really like a sense of direction and renewal in my writing, spiritually. I love LOVE getting to wrte both contemp and historical, but I want to know if there’s a particular focus I need to make as I move forward. So far, I’m continuing to receive affirmation in both.

For my career, I’d love to make some solid connections with a CBA house (if that’s what God wants for me).

Anything we can celebrate with you? I’m a Carol Award finalist in the debut category!! WOW!! Totally stoked about that! My debut has also been a finalist in two other wonderful contests – The Grace Awards and the Inspy Awards. These contests have done amazing things to boost my writing confidence!

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Visit my website and like my FB page, would be super!  Also, if you get a chance to read one of my books, please, oh please, leave a review!! That’s an amazing ‘word-of-mouth’ share!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Do The Next Thing

meandgranny1forweb

I have an article that is very near and dear to my heart. Stop by and be encouraged with this note today.

http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/brilliant_well.html

 

Stirring a Child’s Dream to Life

meandgranny1forwebWords are powerful things – and words forged into encouragement produce remarkable results.

I think that’s why I’ve always wanted to provide positive influences into my kids lives through words. I’m not saying that we don’t have hard conversations, that I don’t lose my temper, or that I fail to use ‘no’ or ‘wrong’ in my vocabulary, I’m simply stating that the power of encouragement soaks deep in children.

Can you think of someone who spoke into your life at an early age? Someone you respected who took the time to help rustle your dreams to life?

I do.

I’ve mentioned before about the influence my Granny Spencer has had on my life and writing. She exuded a gentle charm, kind of like a welcome fire on a chilly night complete with a cup of hot chocolate. Just sitting by her brought a comfort and warmth all the way through your skin to your heart. She had the ability to draw stories out of people and spark your thinker without you even knowing.

When I was almost ten, she bought me a second-hand type writer because she said “A writer needs one.” WRITER. That’s what she called me. She spoke into my dream and breathed another breath of life into it.

movitaWhen I started middle school, I was not only introduced to a new school and new kids, but I met a new teacher. Mrs. Utt. From the first class with her to my last, she encouraged my love for writing by constantly urging me to stretch myself. She believed in me. She told me “I plan to see your books in the bookstore some day.” And another breath of life swelled my little dream.

There are others who, in large quantities or small, breathed into this dream to bring it to life – and it took a lot of breathing, because there were years when all that kept this dream alive was the faith of others and the raw belief that God wanted this dream to come true one day.

But it took a whole lot more than me. It took others taking time to not only to look, but SEE a gift and then use words to give that encouragement power.

Have you done this for a child? Have you had someone in your childhood breathe a dream to life in you?

The Author’s Love in CFOM

TheThornKeeper 500x750 (1)If you’re looking for some encouragement and a beautiful reminder, for both authors and nonwriters, check out my article this month in Christian Fiction Online Magazine!

I hope it will remind you of how great the Father’s love is for his kids.

http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/brilliant_well.html

 

Visiting Home and Signing Books

2011-05-14 11_16_52If you’ve had a chance to read my new release, A Twist of Faith, you can probably guess that I love the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up in a very small place called Lambsburg, VA – which neighbored Hillsville, Va and Mt. Airy, NC (Andy Griffith’s hometown).

For most who’ve grown up in these mountains, or who have lived here for a generous amount of time, the blue-hued horizon means home. For me, the site brings comfort and a sense of belonging, and the views…beautiful, and a constant reminder of God’s great creativity.

I’m thrilled that this weekend I have the wonderful opportunity to head home for a book signing in Mt. Airy, NC.

Book signing Mt Airy

Is there a place that gives you a sense of home? Some location you enjoy reading or would like to read?