Booksigning in Shirlington this Thursday!

The Jane Austen Guide to LifeLocal friends — I’ll be signing copies of The Jane Austen Guide to Life this Thursday evening at Le Village Marche in Shirlington.  This gorgeous Parisian-inspired home decor and gift boutique is one of my favorite places (and happens to be run by my dear friend, Angela). It’s a fabulous place to find great gifts or just to treat yourself to something special!  Even better — it’s Girls Night Out in Shirlington on Thursday eve, so lots of restaurants and shops are doing special things. (I have my eye on CakeLove’s PumpkinHead cupcake and free bubbly.) Plus, you’ll get a free gift with any purchase from Le Village Marche. It promises to be a fabulous night!  Come join us!

levillagemarchelogoHere are all the details:

Event: Book signing for The Jane Austen Guide to Life

Date: Thursday, October 3, 2013

Time: 6-9 PM  (Shirlington Girls Night Out starts at 5 PM, but the booksigning will start at 6.)

Where: Le Village Marche, in the Village at Shirlington (Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA  22206, directions here)



We’re having a gorgeous fall in Virginia — sunny days and cool evenings, when you step into the night and feel blanketed by the misty air and see the moon through a haze.  I was privileged to spend one of these gorgeous weekends on a personal retreat at Corhaven, out in the Shenandoah Valley, to spend time reading and listening and praying and to mark this significant moment of healing.

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Lyme disease: My story (Part one)

Lyme Disease: My Story For thirteen years I’ve been sick.  I have chronic Lyme disease. (Actually, now the Lyme tests are negative and I’m getting stronger and stronger.  I’m learning to say I had Lyme disease.) This is how it started.

How and when I got infected is a bit of a mystery, but I think it was the blackberry-picking that did me in. Every summer, my dear friend Suzanna and I would drive two hours south, into the Northern Neck of Virginia, between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, close to the Chesapeake Bay and beyond that the fresh ocean.  George Washington grew up here; Madison’s birthplace is not far away.  I imagine our presidents here hundreds of years ago in the sticky Virginia summer, in the oppressive heat and weight of the wet air, them with all their proper waistcoats and breeches, Suzanna and I in our shorts, with the beautiful Virginia countryside around us—the same countryside that nurtured these men who built our country. Continue reading »


We recently had family pictures taken.  It’s been seven years since we did this last, and it’s hard to believe that the last time we did this the girls were itty-bitties. They’re not itty-bitty anymore! We’re starting to enter the teenage phase.  Oh, these girls.  I love being an aunt.

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Oh the Irony! Jane Austen to be on £10 Bank Note

British £10 banknote showing Jane AustenJane Austen fans around the world are rejoicing to hear that she will grace the new £10 banknote, to be released in 2017.  (And if they’re like me, they just might see the event as an excuse to plan a trip to England to get their hands on one.)  But the event isn’t without its irony, apropos for a writer who wielded that particular literary technique the way one of her favorite naval officers might use his sword. Continue reading »

On peonies and praise

I’m often overwhelmed by the beauty and detail of the world God created. (I know not everyone who follows this blog is a Christian, but my faith is such a big part of my life and I hope to write more about it here.)


I’m moved to awe and wonder by the smallest things — the almost neon green shoots of leaves coming out of bare branches in the spring, a hover of bees over summer flowers, the surreal pastel glow of twilight, the frantic joy of a puppy.  Food usually gets me too: the gorgeousness of a summer peach or tomato, the piney scent of rosemary, the lovely tart jolt of lime.  Continue reading »

Lucketts antique finds

One of the great joys of beginning to feel better is getting to do some of the things that have been on my wish list for years.  Recently I got to go to a local Jane Austen Society event to hear my friend Juliette Wells speak; I went to see the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center with my dear friend Catherine (her niece was a bumblebee!); and in May I got to go to the Spring Market at the Old Lucketts Store. Truth is, I was pretty giddy about that.  Bunches of antique vendors in a little town in the Virginia countryside?  Bliss!

For those of you who aren’t local to northern Virginia, the Old Lucketts Store is a wonderful antique shop, with bunches of vendors and a Design House that they redesign and redecorate almost every month.  For the Spring Market they spread out on their large property and bring in vendors from near and far, including Marian from Miss Mustard Seed. (I’m in love with her blog, and couldn’t wait to meet her.)

I wasn’t able to get there til the afternoon, and lots of stuff was gone, but it was still lovely.

 P1010075 This is from the front porch of the Design House. Continue reading »

Read This: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

For me, a good book is a luxury, something to be savored, something that in its own right feels like a vacation.  This is one of those books, one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

I wasn’t going to pick this up. (And I’m late doing so. It’s been out for four years.) The title (Potato Peel Pie Society?) made me think this was one of those southern, Ya-Ya Sisterhood kind of books, and for some reason, I’m not a lover of southern fiction. When my sister-in-law recommended it as this wonderful book written all in letters, I looked at it again, and realized, DUH… it takes place on the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel, during and after World War II.  Sign me up!   Continue reading »

This healing spring


cherryblossomsSpring is always a season that moves me to wonder and praise, this year more than most.  I watch the world burst with joy and beauty as God brings delicate, abundant life to branches that appeared to be dead — riots of diaphanous pink cherry blossoms, bright yellow forsythia, delicate redbuds.  I look at these and my heart dances to see the joy of creation (and God’s joy in his creation) on display in this annual resurrection — life from death.

I watched this year and felt like my own body was going through the same thing, like God was bringing life and healing to my body which has been so damaged.  There’s unspeakable joy in this for me as I have seen God healing me over these weeks and months, as my hope grows for what may come.  I can’t put it into words.  Continue reading »

Our Jane Austen Pet Peeves: Austenesque Extravaganza

Thrilled to be part of this month’s Austenesque Extravaganza, put together by bloggers Meredith Esparza and Jakki Leatherberry.  For my part in this month-long celebration of everything Austen, I got to meet Austen authors Alyssa Goodnight and Karalynne Mackrory and chat via Skype about (gasp!) Our Jane Austen Pet Peeves.  (Sacrilege!)  Hope you enjoy!

Alyssa Goodnight: I’m Alyssa Goodnight, and my Austen-inspired novels are modern-day homages that make the assumption that Jane Austen’s spirit is alive and well, offering up romantic advice from a journal.

Lori Smith: Sounds like fun!  I’ve written Austen-related non-fiction, most recently The Jane Austen Guide to Life, which takes practical lessons from both Austen’s fiction and her life stories.  If she could give us advice today, what would she tell us?  Similar to yours a bit, Alyssa.

KaraLynne Mackrory: I am KaraLynne Mackrory and I live in a fantasy world where I believe Mr. Darcy is real.  Well, real enough to invade my thoughts and make me produce giggle-fest stories of him.

Alyssa Goodnight: So…I assume  Mr. Darcy is your favorite Austen hero?

KaraLynne Mackrory: Hmm… that’s a good question. And the answer might not even be yes.  I liked him a lot – though probably because P & P is my favorite of Jane Austen’s books, but I almost liked Edmund Bertram or the charming Mr. Tilney as much.  How about you guys? Continue reading »