Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

• The hunt BEGINS on 3/18 at noon MST with Stop #1 at LisaTawnBergren.com.

• Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).

• There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 3/21 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books and learn new things about them.

• Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

But don’t dash off! Put yer feet up and sit a spell. It’ll be worth your time, I promise.

Si-goggle, Over Yonder and Downright Afreard

Ever heard of those expressions? They belong to Appalachia’s mountain dialect. To our modern ears, this ‘mountain talk’ might seem simple, quaint or uneducated, but it’s far more complex than you might think. It resembles an Elizabethan English dialect spoken centuries ago, sprinkled with Scotch-Irish, with a rhythm, a flow, even an eloquence. Many of the words, expressions, phrasing and framework date all the way back to the time of the first great English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote Canterbury Tales in the fourteenth century. Six hundred years later! Now, that’s what I call…hangin’ tough.

Here’s a few more:


Collywobbles: digestive troubles

A mite:  a little

Cousined-to-death:  nepotism

Haint: ghost

Pert-near:  almost

Parts: neighborhood

Poke: bag

Tolable like: good enough

Wampish: wiggle

Jasper: stranger

Gaum: cluttered up

Nothing Never Stop: unending

Dialect is tricky. It can be overused and become annoying to the reader, making them…well, right smart tetchy. It can be underdone—a missed opportunity for the author.

But done well? Dialect can be a wonderful opportunity for the author to sprinkle color and credibility onto black and white text, to help bring a story to life. In other words, it can make readers think a sight of a book.

Below is a short excerpt from The Moonlight School that shows a bit of Appalachian dialect…hopefully written with a deft hand.

First, some background: The Moonlight School is based on a true story about Kentucky educator Cora Wilson Stewart, who came up with the idea of opening 51 rural schoolhouses on moonlit nights to teach illiterate adults (who made up 1/3 of her county) how to read and write. On the first night, she hoped 150 might attend. Over 1200 adults, ages 18-86, came out of the hills and hollows. In two years, Cora wiped adult illiteracy out of the county.

Such an amazing and little known piece of U.S. history!

In this scene, Cora has talked her cousin Lucy Wilson into coming to Rowan County to help her with the moonlight schools. Lucy, raised in refined Lexington, struggles to adjust to the sights and sounds (and smells!) of Appalachia. Cora sends Lucy to take dictation from Mollie McGlothin, an old, bent-over mountain woman who needs someone to take down her dictation and write a letter to her daughter in Chicago.

A perfect recipe for confusion.

“Mebbe you can teach me to read.” The old woman leaned forward in her rocking chair. “Cora’s too busy, but you gots time. What else ya gots to do?”

The eagerness in Mollie’s voice caught Lucy by surprise. “Oh my goodness…I’m no teacher. I’m here to help Cora with her work as superintendent of the county schools. And I’m sure that will keep me quite busy.” Lucy wasn’t really sure what work that might be, but she hoped it would be significant. For a moment, she forgot she wanted to leave Rowan County as soon as possible.

Clearly disappointed in Lucy, Miss Mollie leaned back in her rocker. “I’m feeling a little tarred.”

Not the actual Miss Mollie McGlothin…but close!

Cora Wilson Stewart (1875-1959)

A moment from an actual Moonlight School.


“Tarred,” Miss Mollie repeated with a yawn. She turned away from her to stare into the coals, and it wasn’t long before Lucy heard a whiffling snore. Lucy folded Jane’s letter and tucked it in an envelope to mail from the Morehead post office. Quietly, she tiptoed to the open door, longing for fresh air. Mollie’s snoring deepened and Lucy suddenly realized what “tarred” meant. Tired!


Outside, she took several gulps of cold, clean air, eager to get the smelly stink of chickens out of her nose. She felt as if she had stepped off the train this morning into another country, separated from the world she had known.


Want to know what happens next? I hope so! This novel is based on a true story, with an ending that will leave you feeling lifted up, inspired by humanity…jes’ plumb happy. And you can put that in yor poke and tote it, my friends.

The Moonlight School has already hit the ECPA March bestseller list! If you’re interested in a copy of your own, you can find it on Amazon, BN.com, Christian Book Distributors (best price!), Baker Book House (free shipping!), or your favorite bookstore. If you do buy a copy, email me here and I’ll send you a bookmark and a signed bookplate.

CLUE: fresh

Link to Stop #3, the next stop on the Hunt: Sarah Sundin’s site.

But wait! Before you go, I’m offering an autographed copy of The Moonlight School to three entrants. All you have to do is follow me as an author on Bookbub! It’s a free service that lets you know every time that the authors you enjoy have a new release, or a book on sale.

After you’ve followed me on Bookbub, please just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

Don’t forget your final stop back at Lisa Bergren’s site!

My personal contest below is open to US residents only (I’m sorry, international readers!).

*Photo credits: Morehead State University archives

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good Things are Coming!

Find out first when you sign up for my email newsletter.

Consider yourself invited to sign up for my newsletter and get the behind-the-scenes scoop, info on freebies and giveaways, and more. Also, by signing up, you will receive the first chapters of some bestselling books. A small way to say I’m glad we’ve connected!

You have Successfully Subscribed!