Creating a Word…Shakespeare-style

imageYou know what happens when you leave a creative mind in a car alone for too long?

Crazy stuff.

Like….creating a word that holds the essence of your brand! YES!

Historic note: It is theorized that playwright William Shakespeare first cited from over 200 to 1500 words! Whether he was the inventor of them or not, we can’t know for sure, but he’s given credit for a BIG bunch of them.

Another historic note you can use on Jeopardy some day: Author John Milton is said to have coined over 600 words still listed in the Oxford Dictionary! WOW!!

Word inventing is cool…especially if it is meaningful to the story or author🙂

2011-05-14 11_16_52I have channeled my inner Williams Shakespeare/John Milton and created a word that embodies the type books that I usually write.

Are you ready for it? It’s the FIRST time anyone has EVER seen it in cyberspace. (except a very small group of individuals with whom I shared it first to make sure I wasn’t going completly off my rocker…or if I WAS going completely off my rocker, they were rocking right along with me. So I’m not alone🙂

And…my agent approved…which means she’s off her rocker too – OR – she knows when to encourage a good branding strategy😉

This new word embodies THREE key elements of my stories:

  1. Those of you who follow my writing know that I’m an Appalachian girl. The Blue Ridge Mountains are my home and such a part of my heart and stories. So many of my novels have some sort of Blue Ridge Mountain or Appalachian element in them.
  2. You ALSO know that I have an obsess….um….deep interest in all things British. From England to Scotland to Wales and Ireland, I love it – cheers and all. Many of my novels reflect this infatuatio…um…interest by involving a character and/or setting of the UK.
  3. Most of my novels hold some element of culture clashing. Yes, oh yes, I love to pair two different cultures together and watch the story unfold with all of its humor, conflict, and steps-to-understanding. SUCH fun!

day1So, without furthur embellishment from yours truly, here is the word I’ve created🙂


Yes, you read that right!

I write Britallachian novels.

Woohooo!!! Just so you know, I will begin to use this word freely and probably drop it in the middle of conversations with unashamed and completely biased pride🙂 (note the fun-loving sarcasm)

Have you ever created a word? Do you have a brand? If you’ve read my novels, do you think the word fits?

Share, oh share!!

Appalachian y and er

2011-05-14 11_16_52Southern Appalachia is an interesting place.

As my culture, there are so many things I love about it. The fierce loyalty of family, the sense of community, the independent spirit and resourcefulness. Of course there are things I’m not too fond of either – the suspicion, the sometimes insular nature of people, the tendency to be fearful of the unknown. And then their is the culturally…um…unique things?

One is the tendency to put a ‘y’ on the end of words that end in an ‘a’. For example, instead of saying “I want an extra cup”, you might hear “I want an extry cup.” The name Sarah might be said “Sary”. Many a Laura naturally became Laurie🙂

In some cases the ‘a’ will be changed to ‘er’. I had a relative whose name was switched from Edna to Edner.

Then there’s the modification of words that end in ‘o’ or ‘ow’. Notice, there are rules for this particular dialect. Funny, huh? We don’t usually think of them as dialect rules, just mispronunciations (unless you’re from ’round hyere).

Potato become tater

Tomato becomes mater

Hollow become holler

Yellow becomes yeller

Have you ever heard of these? What is a rule in your dialect?

The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

the-cautious-maidenI’ve been a fan of Dawn Crandall’s books ever since I read her first one, The Hesitant Heiress – by the way, I own the dress on this cover🙂

Dawn’s writing style is intimate and interesting. As a first person writer, the reader is drawn into the thoughts of one of the main heroines in each book, giving the reader an indepth (though biased) view of the story world. We are watching and experiencing the events happent through each of the four heroines for each book.

Dawn’s pacing is consistent and her details are beautiful woven together within a strong story teaming with grace and delicious romance.

The Cautious Maiden may very well be my favorite of the series so far because of one main reason…. VANCE. I’m a big fan of bad-boys-turned-good. And boy, oh boy, does Dawn write us a fabulous redeemed rogue in this novel. It’s a beautiful pairing of innocent Violet and passionate Vance.

Here is my endorsement for The Cautious Maiden.

“Readers will be captivated by Dawn Crandall’s fourth novel, The Cautious Maiden. Emotions run deep and draw the reader in with flawed characters and gentle nudges of romance that flare into a passionate journey of forgiveness and new beginnings. Violet is an innocent woman with a generous heart. Vance is a reformed rogue with the best intentions. Together, they create an amazing story sure to please the hopeful romantics in all of us.”

The book releases TODAY – October 4th and you can get your copy right here!!

Don’t wait too long to enjoy the amazing journey of romance, forgiveness, and second chances, in this delightful installment of Dawn’s Everstone Chronicles series.

The Dynamic Duo: Compassion & Power

the force.jpgI love that my kids have awesome imaginations. Of course, their ways of expressing their imagination is all different – one uses drawing, one – writing, one- crafts cool stuff out of a various assortment of things,…but all love dress-up. My fifth grader inherited some amazing Nerf weapons from his older siblings and these necessary tools,for destroying imaginary enemies, are his joys.

It just so happened that recently he misplaced on of his swords. Maybe I should say THE sword. A Nerf Master Sword (if you actually know what that means, you receive 5 points). This was a BIG deal. He looked everywhere…twice, with no result.

I knew what it was like to lose something I loved. I have a favorite pair of earrings floating around in the world somewhere that I’ve never been able to find. So we sat together, prayed for help, and I tried to comfort him as best I could.

superheroes-2Then I remembered him placing it on a piece of furniture and wondered if maybe have fallen in behind a difficult nook behind that piece of furniture. So we looked. Sure enough, there it was. Not only was it in a difficult to reach spot, it was also stuck beneath the weight of this large bookshelf. Definitely in a spot my 11 year old couldn’t get.

Thankfully, my arms are longer than his, so after shuffling the bookshelf around a little, then reaching my arms down inot the narrow crevice of doom, the sword came free and I had a happy son.

As simple as this sounds, it made me think of something eternal.

There’s something beautiful about compassion. When you feel as if you’re not carrying a burden alone, but others see the difficult and share in the struggle by showing kindness. Compassion serves a wonderful purpose of connection and comfort.

But compassion can only go so far. I could try and comfort Samuel about his lost sword, but he’d still hurt from the lossness.

kids1However, I had something else. I had power. Power to remember where I’d seen his sword last and also power to move stuff around to reach the coveted sword. Compassion paired with power is AMAZING.

You know, that’s what we get in Jesus. Just think about two stories in Mark that are told back-to-back. First the feeding of the 5000 and then Jesus walking on water. Jesus had compassion on the hungry people – because not only were they hungry for food but hungry for His words. His compassion was beautiful – but he could do even more. He had the POWER paired with compassion to make a difference.

We all know that power by itself isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s been misued for centuries to the detriment of millions -but paired with compassion it’s world-changing.

day5pAfter the feeding of the 5000, Jesus sees his disciples trying to cross the sea only to be met by strong winds slowing them down. What does he do? He goes to them…walking on the water. If he was just trying to show off power, he’d have kept walking right passed them, but he doesnt. Compassion for his wayward disciples pauses him and even compels him to still the winds so they could make it across the sea.

I find such comfort in this! Why?

Life happens! – with all of its messy, storming, achy, heart-bending brokeness.

And though God is a god of compassion – and that compassion can comfort in part, He is also a God of power, which makes the comfort whole.

He is able to take on the storm, the hungry, the broken…the mess, and do something about it out of his overwhelming goodness. If you’re struggling with finding your hope, remember, He not only showers His children with compassion – He has the ability  “to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesian 3:20-21)

The outcome might be what we expect (ie…water walking😉, but it will be what we need most. At our cores. And it will be wrapped in his love.

That we can count on.


uk2k16 -Edinburgh 1

day5To continue with my love for England, I’m going to take you on our quick trip to Edinburgh.Oh my, this might have been our favorite part of our recent trip. I plan to take some time in the future to talk about other England adventures, but Edinburgh was amazing – a city that didn’t feel like a city.

But…to start, since it was Sunday, we worshipday5oped in a wonderfully historic (and evangelical) church called All Souls Langham Place.What a wonderful place to visit! Such a warm and friendly church where you could feel the welcome and community of faith. We witnessed a baptism, learned some new songs, and enjoyed a chat with another
visiting American family…and OF COURSE we got to spend time with our new friends Peter and Ilona.

Well, after church we picked up a quick lunch in Kings Cross station and then day5chopped on the train for our 4 hour ride to Edinburgh. It was such an enjoyable trip. On the way up, we all actually got to sit together in a four seat set with a table in between. The scenary was lovely – we saw the English coastline just
before we crossed over from England to Scotland. BEAUTIFUL.



It’s around 5 by the time we get to Edinburgh, so we load up in a taxi, take our bags to our hotel, and walk directly to Arthur’s Seat. But on the way to the hotel, and looming directyl over the train station, is the amazing Edinburgh Castle. Oh my, day5djust turning around and seeing this medieval fortress towering above you is impressive enough, but knowing we were going to get to tour it made it even more exciting. Again…photos seem SO small!!

day5eArthur’s Seat is part of Holyrood Park – 360 acres attached to the Queen’s Scottish residence Holyrood Palace.  The hike is probably considered a moderate one, until you get near the top – which is more rigorous – but we didn’t get the opportunity to hike all the way to the ‘Seat’ because of the lateness of the hour. However, we hiked halfway and had an amazing view day5kof Edinburgh and even the North Sea.  Hailed as one of the possible sites for the legendary Camelot, it immediately becomes a place filled with stories waiting to be told (or that’s how it was for me anyway😉

I’ve posted a few videos below so you can see our hike in real-timday5le🙂 Lydia and I had lots of fun creating videos, so if you want to see more – we’ll have links at the end of the post.

After our little hike, we went to grab some DELICIOUS burger at Byron’s. Wow! Yum!! And the hot chocolate was stupendous. Our waiter, Ross, was wonderful – with the endearing mix of Scottish accent and dry humor. Definitely a future character in a book!! (well, his personality paired with a waiter we met the next day…adorable young men who need day5hto be in a book)

We then attended a free piano concert inside of St. Giles (the ‘home’ of Presbyterianism). I’ll tell you more about St. Giles in my next post because we actually toured it then, but needless to say, it has a lot of history and fantastic accoustics.

Photos truly do not do this city justice! Beautiful! and OLD!


Grabbing Thoughts

biltmorewithphoebe16My nine year old daughter came downstairs after ‘going to bed’, her eyes red from crying. I expected the occassional bad dream explanation but instead she told me that a little girl at school had shared a scary story with her about dolls coming to life and hurting a family.

(Ugh….not my favorite scenario)

Anyway, her words were “I can’t get the scary out of my head.”

I pulled her up on my lap and she cuddled up against me, a hold I appreciate more and more the older she gets (because she’s doing it less and less). I said an internal prayer for help and wisdom before speaking to her.

“I’m sorry somebody told you something scary. I’m afraid because this world is so broken you’re going to see lots of scary things in your life, so the best thing to do is figure out how to deal with them right now.”

She nodded and sniffled.
“What does the Bible say about our thoughts, Phoebe?”
“I don’t know?” she shrugged.
“Well, the Bible tells us what things to think of first of all. (Philippians 4) Some of the things it says is to think on things that are true and lovely. Is the doll story true?”
She shook her head.
“It definitely doesn’t sound lovely, does it?”
“No,” she whimpered. “But it’s still stuck in my head.”

Yep, I knew that feeling. I’ve been strugg
ling with my own brain spinning fears lately.

“Let’s both try two things. What do yousay? First, the Bible says to take every thought captive.”

“What does captive mean?” Thankfully, she’d stopped crying by this point.cslewis23

“You know when a knight or a soldier captures an enemy? What does he do to capture them?”

“He grabs them?”

“Yep. Captive is kind of like ‘grabbing’. God tells us to grab those thoughts and see if they fit God’s types of thoughts to think. If they do, we keep them. If they don’t, we toss them. And if those bad thoughts get sticky to our minds, we have to put good thoughts in to push away the bad until there’s no room for the bad.”

We talked a little longer about some thoughts she could think instead and off she went. When I checked on her twenty minutes later, she was asleep with her Jesus Storybook Bible on her chest.

I got the opportunity to remember my own words later that night as my mind filled with sticky thoughts. They spun with worry and fear, sending my heart into a patter.
Were my thoughts true? Maybe some of them.
Were they lovely? Definitely not.
But they were not excellent or praiseworthy because they brought fear with them.

Taking my own advice, I began to fill my mind with prayers for others instead of continuing to spin my fears. I caught those thoughts, looked at them, and measured them against the truth.

God is good. Faithful. Filled with compassion. Powerful.
And I am His.
No matter what.

Did I fall asleep right away?
No, sticky thoughts aren’t always easy to remove.
Did I fall asleep eventually?
Yes – and hopefully next time I will even faster.

Because in those moments I desperately need to remind my heart about what my head knows. Who is in charge and to whom I belong.

It’s a good reminder from one traveller on this life-journey to another.



#uk2k16 – Day 4 – Oxford

day4As we continue on our whirlwind trip to the UK, today I’m going to take you on our excursion to Oxford.

OH what a fun day- but the best parts happened outside of the actual college area. Of course, there are wonderful photos to share of the historic university and all of its many buildings, but some of our most interesting and humorous adventures today happened on the ‘fringes’ of our plan. Isn’t that how things usually go, though?

Again, our morning involved leaving our hotel and boarding the Tube during the crowded London rush hour, but this morning we rode from Monument to King’s Cross train station (you know, like King’s Cross in Harry Potter! And yes, there was a Harry Potter store AND a 9 3/4 – to which Lydia fan girled a little bit. I think I have a video for you about that)

day4dThe train took us to meet our guide for the day, Peter. He picked us up in his car and we drove toward Oxford. What a fun ride!! Truly, everyone needs to experience of riding on the other side of the car on the other side of the road!

Our first stop, and one of my favorites of the day, was a visit to author, speaker, and theologian, C.S. Lewis’ house, aka The Kilns. This place was lovely, as you can see. Flowers in the garden and a resident cat named Warnie (C.S. Lewis’ brother’s name). The house is used for college students to study and visit, as well as ‘groups’ to stay, so it was occupied while we were there, but one of the guests came out and talked to us about her studies and the house.

day4cWe also walked behind the house to Lewis’ little haven in the back. The pond, bomb shelter, and wood surrounding The Kilns’ in which he, Warnie, and Lewis’ wife, Joy, walked and talked. It was a lovely little space in the middle of an otherwise crowded subdivision. The quintessential English cottage. Seriously. Lovely windows, rose covered ways…beautiful.

After visiting the Kilns we traveled down the road a short distance and parked. Down a narrow lane through the wood, we came to a lovely and small old church called Holy Trinity Church in Headington, Oxford. We weren’t able to visit the inside of the church (which has stained glass windows representing Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia), but we did see Lewis’ grave. What a day4elovely, green, and quiet setting for this amazing man’s resting place.

From there we traveled to Oxford for lunch. As we walked through the streets, Peter told us about the Martyrs memorial in the middle of the street. A powerful statue memorializing the men who were burned on that spot for their faith.

To keep with the amazing historical trapse about Oxford, we ate at the Eagle and Child – meeting place of The Inklings! And we happen to get there early enough to sit in the actual booth amazing authors like CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, sat in as they discussed literature, theology, and day4ifantasy!!

The kids enjoyed Fish & Chips (their usual fare for the trip) and then we went off to explore the university.

Magdelen College was my favorite of the ones we visited. The cloister was beautiful, filled with blooms. In back was New College (new meaning built in the late 1700s🙂. Lewis stayed here during his teaching at Oxford.  A few photos down day4kyou will see the building. The window with the red flower under it is the room where Lewis stayed.

There is a bridge here that takes you on the famous Addison’s Walk – the beautiful woodland path that Tolkien, Lewis, and
some of their friends, walked. It was on one of these walks that Tolkien and Hugo Dyson talked to Lewis about Christianity in terms of Christ’s sacrifice being like the myths Lewis loved…except it was a ‘true myth’. Lewis’ journey of Christian faith came to a pinnacle at this point and propelled him into a new understanding of the Gospels and the faith he’d once shunned.

We also visited Christ Church with its amazing stained glass windows. Our tour of it was cut short by a wedding party. Lots of weddings happening in day4lvaroius places during our trip🙂

After spending a little more time in Oxford, we traveled down the road a little way to a large cemetery where, after some searching (and sign following), we found the grave of JRR Tolkien. People had left their tributes to him in various forms. Coins, papers, even a quill and inkwell. The inscription on his grave was created by Tolkien’s day4mson, Christopher, in a beautiful memorial for his parents and celebration of his father’s legacy.

We traveled back with Peter to his house and had the wonderful opportunity to meet an unforgettable character…Henry.  Henry was the former head of Scotland Yard. A man with a big personality, he also happened to have a car owned by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of  Sherlock Holmes. Oh my goodness, this man was hilarious. I might even venture to say meeting him was one of the highlights of the trip for me, Ben, and Lydia. His humor was fantastic, laced with thick sarcasm and a deep laugh.

day4oOn this theme, we ended our day back in London in search of 221B Baker Street. To Lydia’s delight, we found it!!

What a full day!!! So thankful for this quick trip to places some of our favorite authors visited.